ESPN seeks to reform culture that promotes sexual harassment

Posted in Sexual Harassment,Sexual Harassment by Industry on June 7, 2013

ESPN is a media-industry powerhouse. Perhaps no other television network captures key male demographics in the same way that ESPN does. But just as any other media outlet is, ESPN is first and foremost not a public presence but a business and employer. Even if no one watched ESPN’s programming, its managers and executives would still be held accountable for the conduct of its employees and by the law more broadly.

As a result of this fundamental fact, ESPN has recently been forced to examine the ways in which its employer-employee culture is promoting sexual harassment within the business’s work environment. A new report indicates that in the wake of a high-profile affair between a senior vice president and a married executive, ESPN has begun the process of reforming its culture.

One affair between members of upper management does not necessarily leave a business liable to broad claims of sexual harassment. However, ESPN had become widely known as a hostile work environment in terms of sexual harassment. One way in which ESPN is addressing this reputation is by requiring employees at all levels to disclose their intimate relationships with colleagues. Human resources can then use that information to better ensure that no illegal activity is resulting from these relationships.

This story illustrates why it is so critical for victims of sexual harassment to come forward and insist that their rights be respected. More often than not, sexual harassment is not an isolated problem. It often occurs because a given work culture fosters it. By holding offenders accountable, victims can help to influence an entire business for the better.

Source: New York Post, “ESPN cracks down after affair reveals culture of sexual harassment,” Leonard Greene, June 7, 2013