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Content Warning: Sexual Harassment

by Isabelle Schellenger, Program Coordinator, Aspen Global Innovators Group

Over the past few years, sparked by high profile cases of sexual harassment against powerful men, and sustained by the power of #MeToo and TIME’S UP, a national clarion call has been sounded. It is a call for change that seeks to transform power dynamics and create a safe climate of respect for women. Women from various sectors are seizing upon renewed awareness as an opportunity to engage their sectors — business, the sciences, academia, medicine, journalism, the entertainment industry, the military, and the philanthropic and non-profit world —to look more closely at their own workplace culture and practices to create safe, inclusive, and respectful environments wherever women live, learn, and work.

The Aspen Institute Forum for Women and Girls gathered leaders from these sectors for Sustaining the Movement: Changing the Culture, a roundtable discussion on October 31, 2018 with the aim to connect and share their insights, strategies, innovations, and ideas. These leaders share a commitment to empower women across race, generation, and sector, to create more effective accountability structures, especially for the next generation of women so that they can live free from sexual harassment. This roundtable sought to address the following questions: What are the most effective measures to stop sexual harassment in the workplace and in society? How can changemakers in various sectors learn from each other to identify shared priorities, pressure points, and leverage opportunities, and expand the use of best practices and resources?

The participants of this roundtable representing the media, academia and the sciences, philanthropy, private sector, policy leaders, foundations and nonprofits offered powerful observations and insights on the current political and societal climate and challenges, the strategies that are succeeding across sectors, the needs that remain, and how we can take effective steps forward. Participants included representatives from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Communications Consortium Media Center, TIME’S UP, the Rockefeller Family Foundation, and the National Women’s Law Center, among others. Informed by recent public opinion research on sexual harassment, participants engaged to better understand how sexual harassment manifests in each field, identify emerging innovations in the field, and learned examples of best practices.

Increased awareness of the struggles and challenges facing women in the workplace and beyond have inspired organizations everywhere to make changes. Participants in the roundtable discussion shared examples of progress that has been made across the following sectors: entertainment, science and academia, media and journalism, business and the workforce, the military, and philanthropy.

Through a deep discussion on shared challenges and opportunities, the participants of this roundtable concluded that while notable progress has been made across multiple sectors, action and change needs to happen in order to keep this momentum.

For more information on the findings of this roundtable event, read the October roundtable report, Sustaining the Movement: Changing the Culture.