Time for Solutions
In the months following the resurgence of #MeToo, and the long overdue attention to the epidemic of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, many advocates like myself have wondered, what’s next? With the resounding cry from women workers everywhere continuing to echo in our collective conscience, how can we use this moment to build a movement to create workplaces that are free from violence so that no woman has to make the impossible choice to suffer harassment and abuse or support her family?
On May 8, Futures Without Violence, along with 36 organizations working to end sexual violence in the workplace and build safer workspaces for vulnerable workers, hosted a convening to answer that question. Survivors, advocates, researchers, and other change makers came together to catalyze the energy around the #MeToo movement and take a collective step forward toward dynamic, structural change, so that women can thrive in the workplace, and all workers are treated with dignity and respect.
The Solutions Summit was just that – a working meeting to address the problem of sexual violence in the workplace and outline a path forward. The Summit’s commitment to leading by those most affected by these issues was demonstrated not only by anchoring the day with survivors’ experiences, but also making the meeting accessible through simultaneous interpretation to ensure all voices were heard.
The day began with Suzette Wright, my new shero, sharing her experiences as a Ford Motor Company assembly plant employee, and her fight for workplaces free of sexual harassment and violence. Nely Rodriguez from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers shared their worker-led inspirational organizing efforts which have reduced harassment and violence in the fields – demonstrating what happens when you empower survivors and workers.
Attendees broke out into Action Labs to discuss legislative priorities, replicating survivor-led models, the data that is needed to fuel change, and how unions and employers can improve their workplaces. Surrounded by many familiar faces and new allies, we worked to elevate best practices, identify needs, and set goals. New partnerships were established, and strategies were defined.
The day concluded with organizations sharing their commitments to moving this work forward, a testament to efforts to break out of our silos and strengthen our work across organizations and industries.
This is just the beginning. While we may have returned to our workspaces, the conversation will continue and we will collectively work to advance this movement so that no one will have to say “me too” in the workplace ever again. I look forward to our reconvening in 2020 so we can see how far we’ve come – together.