One year after the inception of #MeToo, human resources (HR) professionals say the movement has increased awareness of harassment, made it easier for victims to report inappropriate behavior, and helped improve employee training. However, there are also some unintended consequences, they say, such as confusion about workplace etiquette and the possibility of fewer opportunities for women. A Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this year found that half of Americans believe the heightened attention on sexual harassment has made it harder for men to know how to interact with women at work. Experts also report growing reluctance from male executives to hire or work closely with women, in some cases declining to hold one-on-one meetings with female employees. “It’s not a good thing,” said Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “It’s further disconnecting women from networks that we’ve already been excluded from.”
However, University of Maryland professor Neta Moye, an expert on HR and leadership, suggests the campaign is somewhat misunderstood. “None of the stories that we learned about in the #MeToo movement was a small, one-time, accidental incident in which some man says to some woman at work, ‘I like your dress,'” Moye said. “These stories are of men who are knowingly, willingly abusing power, usually repeatedly, in order to get sexual favors from women.” In addition to continued training and instituting policies against inter-office relationships, experts suggest implementing common-sense solutions like appointing more women to leadership roles, keeping doors ajar during meetings, and encouraging handshakes instead of hugs.
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