Beginning last month, dozens of women have come forward accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape. It began a national conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace, because women in nearly every industry have shared similar experiences. Now that its prevalence has been publicized, the obvious question is how to prevent future abuses of power.
Accountability is a crucial step in the right direction, but it's not enough. Last year, long before the floodgates opened, Joann S. Lublin of The Atlantic wrote that having women in leadership positions is the best way to combat workplace harassment. "In workplaces largely led by men, sexual harassment remains pervasive up and down the corporate hierarchy. It is not likely to disappear until more women move into the management suite," Lublin observed.
Today The Wall Street Journal reported that former Obama official Maria Contreras-Sweet has placed a bid on The Weinstein Company — and her proposal would turn the company's culture on its head and ensure that women and employees aren't exposed to a toxic environment like the one created by Weinstein and members of the company's complicit all-male board.
According to a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Contreras-Sweet would rename the company and appoint a "majority-female board." Weinstein's brother Bob, who is co-chairman, would be shown the door if Contreras-Sweet acquires the company.
Contreras-Sweet said that she's been "profoundly affected by the recent revelations" and "reorganizing the Company as a woman-led venture will be an inspiration to the industry, and a new model for how an entertainment company can be both financially successful and treat all its employees with dignity and respect," as reported by Deadline.
The outlet also notes that Contreras-Sweet wants to work with Weinstein's alleged victims and set up a both a fund and a mediation process to help them.
Because the Weinstein revelations are what ultimately led to exposure of widespread abuse in other industries, it would be incredibly fitting and meaningful for Contreras-Sweet to take it over and put women in leadership roles. (And it would hopefully inspire other companies to follow suit.) Although it's hard to think of anything that would equal complete justice for the alleged victims, a revamp of the company and a chairwoman who wants to help them certainly seems like a measure of much-needed justice and change.
Refinery29 has reached out to Contreras-Sweet for comment.
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