Minna J. Kotkin starts out an opinion-editorial in The Washington Post on sexual harassment in the workplace with an allusion to "Mad Men."
Fans of that AMC classic recall how the males in the ad world considered it a perk to hit on the female employees.
As Kotkin, a Brooklyn Law School professor, observes, currently things are not much different.
One reason sexual harassment remains institutionalized is the existence on those Non-Disclosure agreements (NDA) which usually are clauses in settlements.
Obviously, as allegedly occurred at Fox News and the Weinstein Co., serial harassment is protected. And goes on and on.
Ironically, corporate leadership usually defends the NDA as a type of best practices. Kotkin notes:
"In my three decades of harassment claims, corporate officials have always insisted that unless settlements are confidential, firms will be overwhelmed by a deluge of accusations, with every disgruntled employee looking for a payout."
As with myriad problems, the solution is quite simple: Eliminate the NDA in settlements. From the get-go, says Kotkin, plaintiffs can tell their lawyers that they will not buy into a settlement with confidentiality clauses.
In addition, Kotkin advocates a public EEOC database which contains all the data about claims filed regarding alleged sexual harassment. There should be transparency.
Meanwhile, shareholders can make NDAs in sexual harassment disputes an issue boards of directors must eliminate. That makes sound investment sense.
After all, when the alleged sexual misconduct at Fox News was outed, the investments of 21st Century Fox investors were put at risk.
In addition, as the SEC has made clear, those payouts were not disclosed to shareholders. The SEC has been investigating all that.
Alleged sexual harassment is a governance issue. Leaders who ignore it or, worse, attempt to cover it up, have to be punished.
Currently, at the Weinstein Co., the question hovering over the board is: What did they know about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment and when did they know it.
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