The movement may have gained traction through celebrities, but it is changing workplace culture.
The #MeToo movement took off as a result of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but directors and officers insurance (D&O insurance) changes are reflecting the impact in the average workplace. Over the past year, the movement has gained tremendous momentum. Companies are paying attention.
Businesses are becoming enthusiastic about an array of changes that follow the #MeToo movement.
“There’s now a swell of enthusiasm for the notion that women and men will not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Fox Rothschild partner and chair of the directors’ & officers’ liability & corporate governance practice group, Stephanie Resnick. Businesses are recognizing the issue and are acting on it to protect their workers from sexual harassment, but also to protect themselves from liability. As a result, directors and officers insurance is being seen as considerably more important.
The 2018 Hiscox Workplace Harassment Study published in September showed that over one third of American workers feel they had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their working lives. Sexual harassment was also the leading form of employee misconduct. Forty one percent of female workers said they had felt harassed on the job. Over three in every four people accused of harassment were male.
Companies of all sizes are viewing directors and officers insurance as increasingly important.
“What we’re seeing is that harassment can happen in any type of company, any size, any industry, and I think the survey showed that people are more aware of the types of situations that can arise, especially because of the social movements like Me Too or Times Up,” said Hiscox USA management liability product head, Patrick Mitchell.
According to Resnick, it is up to corporations and companies to protect the safety of their employees. The #MeToo era is placing that obligation in the spotlight for significant scrutiny. Resnick pointed out that this responsibility among companies has not changed. “It has always been the case,” she said. That said, as workers feel more empowered not to tolerate sexual harassment, boards of directors are being increasingly sued for their failure to act on such allegations.
For this reason, directors and officers insurance for liability coverage in this rise in lawsuits has increased in its necessity.