Dolan School Students Learn Vital Lessons of the #MeToo Movement

Dolan School Students Learn Vital Lessons of the #MeToo Movement

On October 2, the first-ever Fall 2018 Dean’s Executive Forum, “#MeToo and Changing Dynamics in the Workforce,” provided timely lessons on the dire importance of ethics and respect in the workplace.

Introducing the first of what will be an annual forum format, the dean of the Dolan School of Business, Zhan Li, DBA, told the capacity crowd on Tuesday night, “The idea is to bring thought leaders to the Dolan School of Business and encourage dialogue on cutting edge issues, so our students will be ready for today’s world.”

Serving as moderator was management professor Lisa A. Mainiero, PhD, who emphasized that the evening would be an opportunity to talk openly about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, as well as the emotional toll they take. “Both men and women are victims,” she noted. “We’re not talking about sex tonight, but abuse of power.”

Panelists -- experts in labor law, talent management, and effective work environments, among other managerial areas -- were asked if they envision an increase of reports of harassment in the workplace, given the current news headlines and social climate.

Rachel Lieberman, senior vice president and chief counsel for Labor, Employment and Benefits at Synchrony Financial, believes there will be an increase in “private reports” of harassment, but a decrease in “public reports.” She emphasized that sexual harassment in the workplace “is illegal; it’s a form of discrimination.”

When Dr. Mainiero asked how workplaces might change going forward, panelists agreed that the key to positive change lies in employees being good to one another -- emotional intelligence and a decency quotient among employees are crucial. 

“A lot more attention will be paid to getting the culture right,” said Patricia Nazemetz, former chief human resource and ethics officer for Xerox Corporation, and now principal of the talent management consultancy NAZ DEC LLC. “We have to get back to people treating each other with respect.”

 “It’s important to catch people doing something right," continued Nazemetz, "Good behaviors will drive new policies.”

Panelists also agreed that #MeToo has ushered in workplace scenarios where some men are afraid to mentor or even hire women, and many people are hesitant to hold meetings attended by just two people. “I fear a step backward for women -- a backlash,” said Lieberman.

Simon Fenner, managing director at Lukoil Pan Americas, LLC, urged students to make certain their future places of employment are respectful places where they feel comfortable.

Human Resources can play a vital role. Nazemetz emphasized that best practices for Human Resources departments include open communication and lots of ways to report incidents, while Dr. Mainiero stressed that victims must be protected against retaliation.

Professor Mainiero brought the event to a close with a personal plea to attendees to seek counseling if they are victims of any kind of harassment or assault. “Rise,” she told the audience. “Remember – you are a survivor, not a victim.”

Tags:  Student Stories

Last modified: 10-12-18 8:00 AM

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