A month and a half after television reporter Gretchen Carlson sued Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, it appears that she has finally won. On Tuesday, Carlson received a $20 million settlement and an apology from her former employer.
"We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve," a statement from Fox News read.
Carlson wrote that she was gratified by the news of the settlement, and thanked all of the people who supported her with the social media hashtag #IStandWithGretchen.
"I'm ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace," she wrote in a statement. "All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded."
While Carlson's legal victory represents a majorly visible step forward in the fight against sexual harassment, questions remain about how we can make sure all women in the workplace can receive the same type of help.
Here are three actions we could take to better ensure that everyone is empowered to speak out against sexual misconduct:
1. Penalize companies that do not adequately address unwanted sexual advances.
Part of the reason sexual harassment is so prevalent in the workplace is because some companies protect the accused offenders. Fox executives allegedly covered up Ailes' misconduct with secret settlements, allowing it to continue unchecked. New regulations could be created specifically to discipline companies and organizations that are found guilty of conspiring to hide instances of sexual harassment. One possible punishment could include the loss of tax breaks.
2. Be proactive to reduce the risk of harassment.
There are proven strategies to prevent harassment, such as actively training workers and establishing a clear sexual harassment policy, that any employer can implement.
3. Endeavor to create work environments that support victims who come forward.
One of the best ways to empower survivors in the workplace is to create an environment where they feel safe reporting sexual misconduct. As in the case ofCarlson, her speaking out against Fox News inspired about a dozen women to come out of the shadows and speak to the New York Times about sexual harassment at Fox News.
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