One year ago on Oct 15th, 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded virally as a hashtag and has since forced the world to have a very long overdue conversation. Since its inception, a number of prominent men have lost their jobs, as well as California and New York passing laws to require company harassment training and make it easier to report abuse.
Times Up, the Hollywood-born legal defense fund fighting sexual harassment, raised over $20 million to provide legal resources to women in the workplace. And earlier this month, the organization hired its first president and CEO. Although the country has seen some movement in the fight for women’s rights, change takes time.
It got me thinking…what has actually changed since the #MeToo movement and what has not? I wanted to share my own thoughts and ask 5 powerful women entrepreneurs to weigh in on what they thought has changed for women, what hasn’t changed as well as suggesting one action we can take to continue the forward momentum.
Here are my thoughts:
In the past year there has been a collective breath taken by every woman, as more action is being taken in response to women speaking up about being harassed. Our voices are starting to be heard and that allows for more truth. What hasn’t changed is the questioning of women’s truth. We just saw this with the questioning of Dr. Ford’s claims against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
My suggestion is that women need to build their confidence so that they communicate their truth and don’t fear action. When you experience an injustice and sexism, do and say something.
The biggest change I’ve noticed is that women are sharing more freely about the experiences they had, in many cases so long ago. Still scarred, hurt and edgy — but talking about something they’ve mostly kept to themselves until now. What surprises me is how many people are brushing the experiences/accusations aside based on their political affiliation, rather than viewing it as a compassionate human.
My suggestion is to pay attention to your reaction when a new #MeToo story comes out. Watch what your initial impulse is… and follow the source of your belief or disbelief as objectively as you possibly can. If it ties into protecting something politically or personally motivated, check yo’ self!
Nisha Moodley, Women’s Leadership Coach & Founder of Global Sisterhood Day NishaMoodley.com
Since #MeToo, more women feel a sense of not being alone, and that our voices, bodies, and experiences matter. We matter. Paradoxically, what has not changed is that we are still shown, in numerous ways, that to many people our voices, bodies, and experiences do not matter.
Educate yourself on intersectional feminism, because the more layers of oppression a person experiences, the more complex and challenging it will be for them to thrive. If we’re going to stand for true equality and freedom for all, we have to prioritize and include the needs of LGBTQ folks, people of color, differently-abled folks, children, and our planet. If we’re going to continue to rise and steer our world towards progress, we need to include those who the status quo seeks to exclude.
The most significant change that has precipitated all these other changes has been a huge burst of energy and cohesion among women and their supporting networks. Women are coming out with their stories in greater numbers. Women are running for office in record breaking numbers. Unfortunately, while there has been major cross gender support for this movement, the old boys club remains the same. Some of the same men in power will always chalk this movement up to hysteria or some sort of desire for fame as related to victim hood.
We have to stop feeling that we need to be submissive to men in power. We have to speak up against people who dismiss women who tell their story or air their grievances. You have to define what that means for you, and it can be as small as speaking out against a sexist uncle at Thanksgiving, or as big as running for office. Find your voice. Don’t keep it inside anymore.
I love that women have been standing together in solidarity and saying, ENOUGH. Yes, Time Is Up! Last summer female founders came forward to talk about the harassment and bias and inappropriate behavior we were experiencing from venture capitalists and other high-profile executives in startup land. While the tide is starting to shift for female entrepreneurs in a startup ecosystem designed for and that caters to men, we still have a very, very long way to go in terms of gender parity when launching high-growth startups.
We need more women to become investors. In 2016, VCs gave male-led startups $58.2 billion compared to 1.46 billion to women-led companies. Yet, women do great things when our startups are venture backed. Our companies have been shown to produce a 35 percent higher ROI when venture-backed. Putting more women in funder seats, ups the chances of women getting funded, as well as additional effects on the startup community, including diversifying venture firms and deal flow.
More women are owning their power to speak up for themselves and share stories that were once shameful, as an opportunity to inspire others to do something different or speak up. Unfortunately, women are still getting themselves into really bad situations and let go of their power to physically, verbally and spiritually abusive men.
Vote! Vote on policies that make change. Take back your power.