Use Your Platform
I am not sure where the grit came from, but I felt compelled to speak up. I told the CEO and the room that I could not report to the COO…
A crisp fall morning and I was headed to an off-site meeting. Like many other women, I was the youngest and only female on the leadership team.
I stood on the corner waiting to cross the street. My thoughts were interrupted when a car pulled up to the stop sign. In the car were two of my peers, the COO, and another male executive. The passenger window rolled down, and the driver (the COO) leaned over and said to me, “Hey Baby want to get laid?”
I was stunned; I was speechless. The COO laughed, said “see you in a few,” and turned right. I stood there for a moment to collect my thoughts. I now had to go sit in a room with him, the passenger in the car, and 6 other men for eight hours.
The meeting began with the news that we were restructuring. I would now report to the man who had just called me baby and asked me if I wanted to get laid.
I am not sure where the grit came from, but I felt compelled to speak up. I told the CEO and the room that I could not report to the COO. Without hesitation or emotion in my voice, I relayed what had just happened.
The room was silent except for the CEO, “Let’s take a 5-minute break.” Out in the hallway, I was assured that I wouldn’t have to report to the COO.
Fast forward a week. The CEO takes me to lunch. He asks me if I am thinking about filing a lawsuit, have I engaged an attorney? He went on to tell me that none of that will solve anything and will only hurt a lot of people. The CEO offered no apology. The discussion focused on the repercussions to the man who had sexually harassed me, the potential economic impact for the company, and potential financial impact to the CEO who was counting on an impending IPO.
I didn’t file a claim, in fact, I never told anyone else about the incident and the company went bust before any IPO.
My biggest regret: I had the opportunity to make a statement on a bigger platform, and I didn’t. It wasn’t about the money, it was about standing up for every woman who has experienced this vile behavior in the workplace.
Don’t shy away from being heard. Use your voice and your story to make a connection and help someone else.
We all have… A Story to Tell.