When New York Times investigative reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, along with the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow, told the world about Harvey Weinstein's chronic sexual harassment history and abuses of power as a Hollywood producer, it ignited a movement called #MeToo that inspired people to speak out and stand up against the cultures of harassment in the workplace that had been overlooked for years.
Organizations outside of the entertainment industry became introspective about their own workplace cultures, where some found that the same problems existed within their own walls. Reported instances in the fashion, government, business and agriculture industries showed that discrimination, sexual harassment, and wage and gender parity were issues women dealt with regularly.
The spotlight even found its way to the media industry, where it was discovered that the very industry reporting on sexual harassment was also experiencing the same harmful behaviors and sweeping them under the rug. Among them were NBC News' Matt Lauer, CBS CEO Les Mooves and New York Times Glenn Thrush, who all allegedly displayed inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
A female journalist E&P spoke with for this story painted a powerful illustration of how unnerving it can be to report an incident: When she approached one of her male co-workers for advice on how to handle a sexual harassment issue, she was rebuffed.
"You don't want to be that girl, do you?" her male co-worker asked.
The reality of how deeply rooted and serious the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and how much it can be overlooked came to the forefront at this year's World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers congress in Portugal.
At the event, the Congress released a sexual harassment guidebook for attendees to take back to their organizations, but at the same time, attendees experienced inappropriate sexual jokes and forced kissing on stage at the gala conference dinner. WAN-IFRA employees took immediate action afterward.
In a statement, WAN-IFRA president Vincent Peyregne said: "I am here to say that that was not appropriate. I am here to apologize to our staff for what happened last night and to say that we recognize the extraordinary work they have done and that they did not deserve to be put in that situation. We will continue to use our position to push for change from within the industry through our initiatives such as Women in News, calling out unacceptable (behavior), and creating forums for the media industry to examine how we as an industry can improve gender balance in our boardrooms, newsrooms and in the content we produce. We will also continue to examine our own record, and not be afraid to admit when we can do better."
Before the occurrence in Portugal, WAN-IFRA had announced they were establishing a working group and resolution to improve the balance amongst a predominately male board. As result, the organization elected its first female vice president and added four new female board members.
Their program Women in News (WIN), which Peyregne referred to in his...