“Now What?”

Amanda Carrier, ’22

The chapter “Now What?” by Joan C. Williams and Suzanne Lebsock discusses the grave issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, along with how to take steps towards a healthier workplace environment. The authors start off by referencing the Harvey Weinstein case and they explain that it sparked several more similar accusations. Williams and Lebsock then go on to point out that this issue of sexual harassment is not a battle between men and women, rather it is “a fight over whether a small subgroup of predatory men should be allowed to interfere with people’s ability to show up and do what they signed up for : work” (Lebsock and Williams 120).

The authors explain how this shift in culture is extremely significant, and it means that social norms at work will never go back to the way they were before. They point out that the bottom line of the shift is that women are now being believed. This is linked to the #MeToo movement, where women on social media share their sexual harassment stories. The more women that reveal their stories, the more credible the stories of all of these women as a whole become.

The authors then go on to talk about the shift that is happening in regards to punishment, from quiet settlements to firing. The fact that this is occurring is very positive because it means that workplaces are trying to make an example of their fired employees, and show that they will no longer tolerate harassment in their environment.

In the next section, they explain the proper way for men to act towards women in the workplace. First of all, the only way to tell what someone wants is to ask that person, Williams and Lebsock say. It is never safe for a man to assume that a woman is interested. When socializing with colleagues outside of work for networking purposes, it is not acceptable to make inappropriate remarks, or do any other inappropriate behavior. When complimenting a coworker on her outfit, there should be no suggestive implications. Men should not be scared of all these rules. They should not start avoiding women in order to avoid creating a problem. Doing so is illegal because it excludes women, which is its own problem. It is also important for women to speak up in the moment.

Andrea S. Kramer and Alton B. Harris also contributed to this article. In their section, they discuss the way a business should go about cultivating a safe, harassment free environment in their workplace. Their recommended main steps are : Communicate with employees, Draw up your survey, and Evaluate. The survey should be short, concise, unambiguous, and very clearly anonymous. When evaluating the statistical results, they should be used to figure out if and what further steps need to be taken to create a better work environment.