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The #MeToo movement is changing the corporate world: Survey

The #MeToo movement tore through Hollywood following the exposure of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse, but has the corporate world been disrupted in the same way?

This is the question explored by German software corporation SAP (SAP) and The Associated Press in a recent survey. Judith Williams, SAP’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, joined The Final Round on Thursday to discuss the results of the organizations’ survey, including whether anti-harassment policies and procedures changed employee behavior.

Evolving workplace behavior is ‘cause for optimism’

In a post-#MeToo world, American workers have reexamined their workplace behaviors to be both more inclusive, and more sensitive, to fellow employees. But, according to the survey conducted by SAP and The Associated Press, employees alone cannot carry that responsibility; companies must also evolve.

“About 70% of the folks we surveyed said that they don't think anything is going to happen for them personally or at their workplace because of this increased attention of the #MeToo movement,” explains Williams. “However, for organizations that have instituted specific diversity and inclusion policies, that changes, and about 43% of the employees say that they do think things are going to change. And, they also see greater conversation about diversity and inclusion. They also see people changing their behaviors.”

Woman with me too sign on hand, movement against sexual harassment

Despite the #MeToo movement, many companies have yet to institute anti-harassment and diversity policies. And those that do have policies are typically larger corporations, says Williams, whose policies are ineffective, and even archaic.

“Larger corporations certainly are going to have policies in place,” Williams explains. “Smaller companies, it really varies. And certainly, certain industries are going to have more policies in place. The issue is really how robust are those policies? And also, what's the culture of adhering to those policies...the question is, are we having a renewed conversation [about diversity and inclusion]? Are people changing their behaviors?”

Two startup business colleagues problem-solving at a computer together in the office.

Male workers are also expressing heightened enthusiasm at the prospect of training female employees, says Williams, contrary to the belief that men are now frightened of working alongside women as a result of #MeToo.

“We actually saw increased optimism among the companies where they had clear policies. And what we found, is that there was a greater willingness to talk about issues around sexual misconduct, around diversity inclusion, and especially among senior leaders,” says Williams. “[About] 43% of senior leaders were having those conversations in the organizations where they had changed their policies or instituted new policies around diversity and inclusion.”

Olivia Balsamo is a writer and producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @BalsamoOlivia.

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