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Perhaps the most important discussion of the year

By Glynn Young, APR, Fellow PRSA, Co-Chair, Communications, PRSA St. Louis   

One actress had the courage to stand up and say, “No more.” She set off a tsunami that has rocked the movie industry, the national news media industry, government, politics, the world of music, academia, sports, and more.

The exposure had to happen; no one should have to tolerate sexual harassment. People are not objects to be groped, harassed, attacked, molested, or raped. Holding authority or power over someone does not give anyone the right to harass and worse. 

Some surveys have reported that as many as one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 have experienced harassment in the workplace. Others say one fifth of all people in the workplace – 27 percent of all women and 10 percent of all men – have been harassed. 

The exposure had to happen. And the questions have only begun. How do we navigate in this exposed landscape? How do you serve as spokesperson for an organization torn by accusations? Can you? How do you manage a harassment crisis? What do you do to manage social media, which tends to act like a mob demanding vengeance? What do you say when the attorneys tell you a woman has to be the spokesperson, because otherwise it will look bad? Is that just a subtler form of objectification? 

This environment, and this issue, may be the hardest communications professionals have had to deal with in a long time, perhaps in all time. We have to understand the pain and horror. We have to know how the police will respond. We have to expect outrage on the internet. We have to respect due process of law. 

On April 26, PRSA St. Louis is hosting an all-day symposium on the communications issues associated with sexual harassment. The speakers include actress Katherine Kendall, who went public about Harvey Weinstein; police and public prosecutors; HR and PR professionals who have had to deal with this in their own organizations or with clients. 

It will not be an easy discussion. But it may well be the most important discussion of the year for communications professionals. 

More information and registration is available here

Photograph by Toni Oprea via Unsplash. Used with permission.

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