Sex Harassment: Not An Adland Problem?

Well, two more media luminaries bit the dust today professionally speaking — Today Show’s Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor of "Prairie Home Companion" fame. Accused of sex harassment one day and gone the next.  

Early in the day, it seemed like both of the alleged harassers were accused, tried and convicted on pretty scant evidence. That remains true of Keillor, although The New York Times followed up later in the day with some of the lurid details — I should say alleged details — in the case of Lauer.

Unless the Times got it wrong — unlikely — NBC made the right call.

Interestingly, some Times readers — including women — wondered if this whole post-Weinstein harassment phenomenon was devolving into a witch hunt.

It’s a valid question. One Times commenter, presenting herself as a human resources veteran, wondered aloud what happened to the good old-fashioned and thorough HR investigation into such serious matters prior to making a call.



So far, I don’t see a witch hunt. I see lots of victims finally having the courage to raise their hands and tell their stories. Having that kind of courage is not an easy thing.

Which brings me to my final point — or question, really, which is why haven’t more victims in the ad industry come forward with their stories? There’s the JWT case that broke a year and a half ago and is still winding its way through the court system. No question that case is getting a thorough vetting.

JWT aside, maybe there aren’t any more harassment cases.

Is that possible? I don’t think so, although it’s too easy to look at the industry’s past perception as a sexist world and say there have to be more untold stories.

Cindy Gallop, the Adland veteran and diversity advocate, has issued a plea for industry sex harassment victims to stand up and tell their stories publicly. And she has stated on the record  she has heard from numerous people about abuse they have suffered at agencies, although they are unwilling to talk about it publicly.

It’s easy for me to say to those sufferers, what are you waiting for? Now is your time to stand up and be heard.

I’m not a victim of sex harassment, so I have no idea what a victim suffers. But such behavior is unacceptable, and kudos to the growing number of companies that are taking swift action when abusers are revealed.

And if you’re a victim who has kept quiet, find someone to tell your story. You’ll probably feel better. Whether you go public or not is a decision for another day. Feeling better is the No. 1 goal.


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