Home Careers Time's Up in 2018: Taking Action against Sexual Harassment
Time's Up in 2018: Taking Action against Sexual Harassment

Time's Up in 2018: Taking Action against Sexual Harassment

Learn more about transportation and logistics management degrees at American Public University.

By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, at American Public University

Sexual harassment cases led the news in 2017. The stories included the highest executive in the U.S. government to Hollywood producers, TV hosts, film stars and even schoolteachers in local communities.

After a Sunday filled with televised football games, the Golden Globes awards on January 7 became a stop sign for men preying on women for sexual favors as a quid pro quo for a promotion or a new job.

Black Gowns Showed Solidarity against Sexual Harassment

During the Golden Globes ceremonies, many celebrities who took a stand against sexual harassment wore black evening gowns as a show of solidarity and support to victims of harassment.

Men supporting the anti-harassment movement wore lapel pins that proclaimed “Time’s Up.” Like all such award shows, there were jokes, some made at the expense of the men in the audience.

But there were also serious pronouncements in solidarity with and support for the wave swelling crossing America for all women to protest harassing behavior and act on their beliefs.

Award winners called upon women to charge any man who touched them inappropriately without their permission or who made sexually suggestive remarks that made the women feel uncomfortable. The movement for these women was known by the popular hashtag #metoo in 2017. In 2018, it becomes the slogan, “Time’s Up.”

My Own Experience with Helping a Harassment Victim

I am a white male in my 70s. I am married with two children and four grandchildren. Also, I worked for the U.S. government, AT&T and the University of Alaska.

Am I qualified to speak about sexual harassment in the workplace? Yes, indeed.

I received a phone call about an hour before the Golden Globes awards ceremony from a former student of mine. She had lost her job because she complained about her boss stalking her. This boss made sexual comments and even accused her of sleeping with anyone who would write her a letter of recommendation. I will call her Miss X.

Miss X reached out to me for advice. She was very distraught. She had graduated with honors with two master’s degrees and had a career in federal government contracting.

Her career had taken off over the years since college. Miss X had promotions and opportunities to work in several parts of the country. She also had the chance to enjoy some world travel.

Life was great. Her future was secure.

Her wonderful career experience lasted until last year when she took a position with a federal government agency in the Midwest. She encountered a male supervisor who quickly became overly friendly with her and often commented on her looks. Finally, he began pursuing sexual favors from her.

She complained about his behavior to their higher boss and then to the proper human relations people. She also filled out the necessary paperwork.

Her supervisor was furious. Unfortunately, nothing has changed. But now, the harassment became intolerable for Miss X.

The male supervisor has not stopped his behavior, nor has he ever apologized. The big boss and the human resources people told Miss X, “That’s just the way he is.”

The establishment within her organization turned a blind eye to her complaints and to those of other women in the office. So, like many women in her situation, she quit her government job as her health began to fail as well. The supervisor had won.

Miss X is now looking for a new job. She will find it because she is that good.

We Can All Be a Voice and a Witness to Prevent Sexual Harassment from Occurring

I am a witness just like you.  And my message is “Enough is enough.”

The harassment of women must stop being tolerated. Will it stop? No.

But everyone can be a voice and a witness. We can listen to victims and get them help.

We can all be the person who picks up the phone and calls someone to do something, just as you or I would do if we saw an accident occurring on the highway.

We can stop ignoring complaints of sexual harassment from anyone in the workplace and the bad behavior of highly paid employees. We should refuse to tolerate unpleasant behavior from those who knowingly violate company policies and retain the valuable employees those people drive away.

This story is not over. It is just beginning. A wave of cultural and political change is in the air. Perhaps by the end of 2018, we will have written a new chapter in American and social norms. Let’s all speak out and make it so.

Learn more about transportation and logistics management degrees at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is a full-time professor at American Public University (APU). He is the former program director of three academic programs: Reverse Logistics Management, Transportation and Logistics Management and Government Contracting. Dr. Hedgepeth was a tenured associate professor of Logistics and chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He has published two books, RFID Metrics and How Grandma Braided the Rain.