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Are We Witnessing a Watershed Moment For Women?

female professional“As ugly as it may sound, come on, we all knew that things like this were going on across all industries, but there was some kind of silence. Once you shed the light on the monster, the monster’s not scary anymore. If we can talk about it, we can solve it. And I’m excited to see what’s happening now, because it’s being talked about everywhere.”

The above is a quote from Carla Harris, vice chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley.

Harris was recently on a panel at the Fast Company Innovation Festival along with Michael Kimmel, a distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University.

The two were – as you likely presumed – discussing the recent flood of sexual assault allegations that started with Harvey Weinstein, in turn empowering women and men to speak out about the times they’ve been sexually assaulted or exploited in the workplace.

As this recent Fast Company article points out, this recent trend of people coming forth with their stories goes beyond Weinstein, having “…also shone a spotlight on Travis Kalanick’s scandal-plagued Uber, James Damore’s slice of Silicon Valley, Bill O’Reilly’s Fox…”

“I think we are at a watershed moment where women are actually being believed,” Kimmel says.

This is indeed a moment I hope we look back to as a point of progression in the workplace, holding those in management positions accountable for the ways they use their power. There are no excuses for the behavior that has been showcased in the recent news, and it’s something WE ALL are responsible for not only acknowledging, but in taking action to put it to a stop.

Here are some other meaningful pieces from the article:

“Just watch what’s going to happen in the next couple of years,” she [Harris] said optimistically, speaking on a panel with Kimmel. Not only are many baby boomers now CEOs, says Harris, but they’re CEOs with daughters in the workplace, thinking to themselves, “Can I let this happen on my watch?”

She [Harris] points out that millennials and now even the first wave of gen-Zers are starting their own ventures. “For them, excellence looks like a diverse group of people,” says Harris, and “they will cause a drain on companies that have been around a long time,” leeching talent (including, but no longer limited to, talented women) away from institutions that are seen as too slow to adapt.