A veteran economist and corporate leader makes a significant contribution to the continuing shameful story of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Hewlett (The Sponsor Effect: How To Be a Better Leader by Investing in Others, 2019, etc.), CEO of an eponymous consulting firm, knows her subject well. In her early 20s, she was hounded out of a job with a “blue-chip” London consulting firm by a lascivious boss who had enormous power and would not take no for an answer. After discussing how the long-overdue pushback against sexual harassment gained steam with the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and others—including Donald Trump, who assumed the presidency “even after the media had revealed a long-running pattern of sexual harassment, including a recording in which he boasted of groping unwilling women”—Hewlett delivers a powerful assessment of “what the numbers tell us.” The facts and numbers are staggering: More than one-third of women report having been harassed in the workplace at some point in their careers; Latina women and black women are the most frequently targeted groups; most predators are top-level executives; and the two industries in which harassment is most prevalent are media and technology. The author then takes on a relatively little discussed pool of data around the harassment of men, especially gay men, and executive women who have been guilty of sexual predation. Finally, Hewlett notes, the bonds of “stigma and silence” are being broken—e.g., in the military and on Wall Street. The author emphasizes that sexual harassment is all about power, and when it occurs at work, the entire workforce can suffer demoralization. Moreover, the legal expenses and enormous corporate settlements—for example, at Fox News, Google, and Goldman Sachs—along with the loss of key leaders and even bankruptcy are slamming the corporate world’s bottom line, forcing a change in culture.
Hewlett is hard-hitting and concise, concluding with practical steps to shut down sexual misconduct in the workforce.