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AWSM breakfast: Workplace harassment and the #MeToo movement

The general session at the Association for Women in Sports Media Friday breakfast in Scottsdale was, “Workplace harassment and the #MeToo movement.” The panelists talked about their combined decades of newsroom leadership positions, particularly how so many behaviors they wouldn’t hesitate to call out now intimidated them early in their careers. Their role models often “grinned and shrugged” in the face of discrimination, leading to more “normalization” of behaviors that should have been anything but. The panelists encouraged attendees not to let “the energy of this time and movement” slip away without speaking out, supporting each other, and encouraging genuine, positive change. Some highlights: • Say “no.” Really. Make it clear the behavior is inappropriate. Besides the obvious reason, this is also important because it can help you vet out if this person made a stupid mistake and are genuinely trying to be inclusive, as opposed to there being a larger, unchecked problem. • Document the behavior, like in a journal, and keep it outside of work. If harassment is in a text-based format (e.g., social media, email), keep print copies. (To quote a beloved sports editor I once had, “if you learn one thing from me, let it be to never write anything you don’t want used later in a deposition.” As he said this, he pulled out a manila folder thick with printed copies of harassing emails a colleague had been sending him.) • Confide in someone you trust. Maybe it’s your editor. Maybe it’s not. Build support systems with people in the workplace you trust. • Panelists were divided on whether they’ve met sources for drinks. One said she has never consumed alcohol in the presence of coworkers or sources. Another said she had, but set limits (“two glasses only”). They both had legitimate reasons.


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