Those of us who represent employees know that Weinstein-esque sexual harassment happens all the time.

While Hollywood is wringing its hands over the more than 63 women who have alleged Harvey Weinstein raped, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them those of us who practice employment civil rights were not surprised at all.  (also, as an aside, can we stop calling it “sexual misconduct?”  It’s not “misconduct.”  It harassment, assault or rape.  Let’s call a spade a spade).  The truth is, sexual harassment happens all the time.

Some people believe that this type of thing doesn’t happen anymore. Just like there are those who don’t believe racism exists or who deny that women are sometimes paid less than men for the same work.

There are also those (like our President) who say that if a woman is sexually harassed she should just find another job (which is ridiculous for so many reasons but that’s for another blog post another day).

A lot of Harvey’s alleged victims are millionaires many times over. And yet, the majority of them did not report the harassment, assaults or rapes until years after they happened and they did so only within the safety net of others’ stories. And to those of us who represent sexually harassed women, that’s understandable because we know that these actresses or Weinstein employees all knew that if they reported Weinstein–one of the most powerful people in Hollywood–that they may never work again–or at least never do the kind of work they wanted.  Now, imagine a minimum or even middle wage employee experiencing the same type of harassment or assault.  What options would that woman have? Despite what our President thinks, leaving a job when you have a family to support and bills to pay isn’t that easy. In fact, it’s ridiculously hard.  And when sexual harassment is coming from the upper echelons of a company to whom should this woman report it?  God?  We have seen many instances where the owner of a company or some other high level executive is the harasser.  When the boss is doing the harassing there is simply nowhere within a company to turn.  That was the Weinstein problem and is the reason he got away with it as long as he did.  There was no one internally to stop him and the members of the Board who could have were all men.

The good thing about this Weinstein mess is that is has people talking.  But it’s time for the conversation to steer now toward what has to happen–not just in Hollywood but all workplaces–to stop this.  Hand-wringing isn’t enough.  We need a plan.  And the companies who truly want to insulate themselves from this type of mess need a plan too.  And the solution is ridiculously easy.

As Kate Sedey’s mother, Mary Anne Sedey, (who is an employment lawyer in St. Louis) said in a recent Facebook post: nothing will change until women hold leadership positions in these companies. And I say, not just leadership positions but executive leadership positions. We need women at the tippy top of these companies to provide checks and balances.  We need women at these companies so that lower level women will know there’s somewhere to go if something like this happens.  Had the Weinstein company’s board been comprised of at least half women do you think this would have gone on this long?  Would Harvey have felt as entitled as he did to try to take what he wanted?  Perhaps, but it is doubtful.  Women who have paid their dues and have risen to the top of these types of companies tend to know bullshit when they see it and they tend to know a predator when they see one.  The reason they do is because they, themselves, have likely endured sexual harassment.   We need female perspective and female power at the top of companies.  Until then sexual harassment like this will keep happening and we will continue to not be surprised.