NEW YORK — Sheryl Sandberg warned of a potential backlash against women and urged companies to put into place clear policies on how allegations of sexual harassment are handled.
In a lengthy Facebook post over the weekend, the chief operating officer at Facebook wrote that organizations under pressure to beef up policies for handling allegations of sexual misconduct may be tempted to limit their exposure by limiting opportunities for women.
“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,”’ Sanders wrote, referring to the rising chorus of women — and some men — alleging sexual misconduct in the workplace. “Actually, this is why you should.”
That movement, following the high-profile sexual misconduct scandals of powerful men including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer, is empowering victims to speak up — but Sandberg said it isn’t enough.
“Too many workplaces lack clear policies about how to handle accusations of sexual harassment,” she wrote. She recommends every workplace start with clear principles and put in place policies to support them. That includes creating training sessions on proper workplace behaviour, taking all claims seriously, establishing an investigation process and taking swift, decisive action against wrongdoing.
“We have to be vigilant to make sure this happens,” Sandberg wrote.
Sandberg also said that she has experienced harassment while doing her job, although never from anyone she’s worked for. She noted, however, that in each instance the harasser had more power than she did.
“That’s not a coincidence,” the 48-year-old wrote. “It’s why they felt free to cross that line.”