The Weinstein scandal didn’t just rattle the entertainment industry. It brought the topic of sexual harassment to the forefront of national and international news outlets, respected publications, social media, gatherings of friends, the dinner table, and importantly, businesses around the world. Why? Because unfortunately, the problem is pervasive.
The Weinstein Company knew this was happening. Boards and executive teams too often know this is happening. We all know this is happening all around us. And we need to do more to prevent it and hold people accountable when it occurs.
Power in Truth, Strength in Numbers
After actress Rose McGowan had the courage to speak up, many positive things have occurred. Individuals and organizations are taking action:
- More than 50 other women were empowered to come forward with similar allegations against Harvey Weinstein
- The Producers Guild of America has banned Harvey Weinstein for life, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him
- The Academy is establishing a new code of conduct for its members in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. Says Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, “Like you, the Academy’s Board of Governors is concerned about sexual harassment and predatory behavior in the workplace, especially in our own industry.”
Breaking the Chain
Companies have the opportunity and responsibility to be a part of the solution—because it’s the right thing to do. They also must go on the offensive to prevent a scandal like this from happening to protect revenue and brand reputation. Importantly, the board has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the company. The cost of unethical behavior unchecked, and boards and company leaders turning a blind eye, can be crippling to an organization. Financial analysts say the Weinstein Company is likely headed for a quick sale or bankruptcy.
What can companies do to break the chain? Tone at the top is important. However, it isn’t enough to simply want to be an ethical company. You need more than lip service around sexual harassment, discrimination, and other unacceptable behaviors. You need an effective, proactive ethics and compliance program that fosters a culture of trust, combined with innovation that enables your employees to speak up without fear of retaliation. The right technology and processes will enable and support your commitment to growing an ethical company.
You may have every intention of weaving ethics throughout your company, but how do you tactically operationalize this? The Convercent Ethics Cloud Platform drives ethics to the center of your business, with solutions and features such as:
- Convercent Disclosures – COI, GT&E and culture surveys
- Convercent Helpline – centralized case management and multiple intake channels including text messages
- Convercent Campaigns – policies including interactive code of conduct plus training
- Convercent Insights – benchmarking, data integrations and visualizations
- Convercent Third Party – supplier self-service and approval workflow
Your ethics and compliance program should partner with your executive team to foster this ethical culture. The Convercent platform’s centralized data with shared visibility, plus standardized processes can help. You should also have a Code of Conduct that clearly describes your company values, as well as your policies and expectations around behaviors. Keep in mind that employees may attest to long-winded PDFs, but they probably won’t digest the contents, much less take it to heart. Instead, consider an interactive Code of Ethics that offers employees a more engaging experience that encourages understanding.
The Power of Ethical Companies
What occurred in the Weinstein scandal (and the resulting impact to the business, which has only just begun) can happen in any industry. What else can happen? Companies can create healthier workplaces and gain momentum in their markets by stepping up their commitment to ethics.
You can take charge now by actively establishing a culture of trust in your organization, facilitated by an effective ethics and compliance program. Convercent helps cultivate ethical cultures—aligning the tone at the top with the voice of employees…through technology.