Each one of us has an opportunity to change the game. Our status, title, position, role all make a difference and each one matters. Each stakeholder is essential. Every voice counts.
This morning Congresswoman Lesko (R-AZ) and Congresswoman Bass (D-CA) introduced Carrie’s law to the House of Representatives. The bill excludes sexual assault and rape from arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
Most companies are not intentionally hiding rape and sexual assault in their employment contracts. It is an unintended consequence. And it’s a bad one.
More than half of Americans have an arbitration clause in their employment contract. Over 60 million people don’t even know they willingly signed away their rights to be raped at work without recourse when they agreed to go to work. We can protect them.
There is no reason for companies not to make this
The arbitration clause protects the company in the event
that an executive sexually assaults or rapes an employee. A company should not
have a problem with carving out sexual assault and rape from the arbitration
clause if the company culture does not tolerate rape from executives.
This does put more of a burden on the company. The
company will have to vet and hire only quality executives. From the executive
level down, the company will have to fundamentally not tolerate rape culture.
By changing policy, companies are allowing for an area
of vulnerability because they genuinely care about their employees. However,
they are only vulnerable if they hire rapists as executives.
If a company is hesitant to change policy because there
is an inkling of a possibility that one day, maybe, potentially an executive
could rape an employee in the future, it is putting the burden of risk on the
employees that the company might accidentally hire a rapist as an executive. This
is a heavy burden to bear.
As a business owner, I am very much pro business and
understand the risks involved. The purpose behind changing this policy is not
with the intent that employees can now go sue their employers at large. It is
to prevent sexual assault and rape from happening in the first place.
If predators are no longer shielded and victims are no
longer silenced, it puts the largest risk back on the predators themselves.
Why we shouldn’t need
legislation for this.
Companies have an opportunity to correct an
unintentional wrong and protect their employees from sexual assault and rape in
the workplace by voluntarily changing their policy. The willingness to
surrender a stronger position of power demonstrates to all stakeholders the
purpose of the company to put people over profits.
We shouldn’t need a law to tell companies to not include
rape as part of their employment contract.
Why we need legislation
There are and will be companies who will not make the
change voluntarily. They are intentionally hiding rape and sexual assault in
their arbitration clauses to protect themselves at the expense of their
We need a law that ends mandatory arbitration for sexual
assault and rape in employment contracts.
The world is waiting to see what leaders in our country
are going to do.
We are either supporting rape in our employment
contracts or we are not. There is no grey area.
Changing this policy isn’t the only solution, it is a
solution. We have a long road ahead to preventing sexual assault, but this
would make a big difference.
My hope is there are people who we will never meet, who
may never even know what we are advocating for, but they will have not been
assaulted because their company chose to end arbitration for sexual assault and
rape. Their lives will keep on ticking away in the same old rhythms of every
day life. And they will never know it was because a group of stakeholders stood
in the gap and held the darkness at bay.
This can be really scary for companies. And I ask that
you encourage your employer, companies, business leaders, decision makers and policy
makers to make the change in a non-threatening way. Let them know they are
important to you and this matters.
If you feel compelled to talk with your employer about
it, do so in a collaborative, non-threatening way. The way we approach this is
important. We need companies and employees to work together towards solving a
larger problem. We need to let businesses know we support them and are
encouraging them to do the right thing.
For those companies that do change policy, let’s support
them in really big ways. They showed up for us, let’s show up for them.
I am both humbled and thrilled that Intel, Allstate, Uber, Microsoft and Dempsey Construction have endorsed the bill. You all are truly leading the charge.
Companies such as Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Lyft and Proctor & Gamble have all removed sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape from their employment contracts. It’s a start, but we need to create a tipping point for more companies to follow suit.
This is an opportunity for both large and small companies in our country to shape culture and make history. We need them to. And as their stakeholders, we need them to succeed.
One person really can make a difference. And businesses
can be heroes too.
*Excerpted from my forthcoming memoir, tentatively titled Pick A Bigger Fight, due out next year. Stay tuned for updates.