The Harvey Weinstein case, alongside the viral nature of Alyssa Milano’s #metoo campaign, has propelled the issue of workplace harassment to the forefront of the entertainment industry. These incidents, which have been a spark for public debate, have also inspired other notable people such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowan, to share stories about lewd interactions involving Harvey Weinstein, many of which span back decades.

While Harvey Weinstein's case serves as a wake-up call to the problems in the entertainment industry, discriminatory practices are not limited to Hollywood.

Weinstein's widely publicized harassment case is symptomatic of a more significant institutional threat – the discrimination and workplace harassment epidemic spanning across all the major U.S. industries.

Harassment cases spread far and wide

In 2017, there have been dozens of cases to cite as examples of this growing trend. We have seen issues related to companies like Ford, Uber, Fox News and AIG. We have seen cases involving city governments, such as the Los Angeles County case resulting in a multi-million dollar payment to a city sanitation worker.

We also learned about the alleged workplace harassment activities of men like Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Price and of course, Hollywood's once loved golden goose, Harvey Weinstein.

The issue isn’t isolated to one specific industry. Instead, it spans across all industries, breeding in any environments where leaders, managers, and employees lack the humanity and foresight to build a respectful and safe work culture.

National harassment study tells all

In the EEOC's 2016 study of harassment in the workplace, out of nearly 90,000 complaints, one-third were related to harassment.

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While sex-based harassment remains a significant component, this number also includes harassment based on age, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, color, and religion. The EEOC's summary paints a bleak picture and much work still needs to be done. As a reference to the current state of Workplace Harassment in the United States, here are the study's primary findings:

  • Workplace harassment is a significant problem in the U.S.
  • Most times, workplace harassment goes unreported
  • A safe working environment is better for your business
  • Leadership must set standards for behavior
  • Current harassment training methods are outdated
  • We must develop cohesive campaigns to address workplace harassment

Discrimination is the heart of the issue

The broad range of harassment issues we have in the American workforce comes down to one thing.

We live in a society that continues to discriminate against one another. The Harvey Weinstein case is a prime example. Discrimination, which is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, underlies all forms of workplace harassment.

The U.S. is a leader in personal and religious freedoms and is known for being the greatest melting pot in the world. Much of our country’s strength lies in an attitude that celebrates diversity (at least in theory). Still, we are a long way from perfect. While U.S. citizens speak of inclusion, we also cling to a fear of anything different, with outdated prejudices and non-acceptance remaining the country’s biggest barriers to progress.

A better path forward

Both individuals and companies need to stand firm against people like Harvey Weinstein and the issue workplace harassment. We need innovators in entertainment, business, and government to take leadership roles and be willing to evaluate the current state of the issue with open, unbiased eyes. We must update education and training around discrimination, offering new evaluation techniques to identify work cultures overrun with harassment. For the sake of every one of us, we must find a better path forward.