Hold the phone. You know it’s the 90s when we’re discussing politics and sexual harassment.
I received a barrage of email from disaffected readers who are aggrieved by yesterday’s article on human resources, sexual harassment, and Fox News.
The emails fall into one of two categories.
- My advice was horrible.
- Chicks lie.
Let’s take the first objection first.
I wrote, “for every one victim [of sexual harassment], there are two who haven’t come forward.”
Some readers feel like that guidance is profoundly wrong.
The original bit of advice was bestowed upon me when I was a very young HR professional. It was back in the waning days of the first Clinton administration, which makes me feel very old. Here’s the quick story: I was working with a senior investigator from a prestigious HR consulting firm who was investigating claims against a member of our executive team.
You know what? His math played out.
Some readers weren’t directly offended by the mathematical formula, but rather, the assumption that someone is guilty before an investigation takes place. How can you do the math before you find out more information?
I’m bad at math. But when someone comes to me and tells me that she’s been sexually harassed, I tend to believe her. The burden of proof is so high that nobody in her right mind would make that up.
Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Call me a militant feminist — which is accurate — but I don’t like to hassle potential victims.
Now, on to the second major bucket of complaints: “Chicks lie, Laurie.”
Yeah, okay. Have women lied? Sure. But the rate at which women lie about sexual harassment reminds me of the rate of voter fraud in America: exaggerated.
I don’t find any problem in listening to someone and assuming she’s telling the truth. Then you investigate. And if you discover that someone has surely been sexually harassed, you can expect that two other women are remaining silent.
The math, in my professional opinion, stands.
So you can email me all you want, but I’m immovable on both points. And, for the two readers who accused me of being reverse-sexist, I’m just as supportive of dudes who have been sexually harassed at work.
When we discover that Roger Ailes sexually harassed twenty-five men at Fox News, I’ll criticize him thoroughly.
I totally love reader email messages, but sometimes I forget just how “human” and messy things can get in the world of human resources. I would just say this: if you’re ever in a position where you want to email me and defend Roger Ailes, just don’t. You are busy, and I won’t appreciate your nuanced and hyperbolic point-of-view.
Thanks for reading my blog!