Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media Salutes Huang Xueqin and Women Journalists In China For The IWMF’s #Journoheroes Month

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media honors women journalists and leaders of the #MeToo movement in China, including Huang Xueqin, for the IWMF’s #journoheroes month. Many have faced intimidation and threats by the Chinese government for their activism, and been placed under arrest at times over the last few years.

Huang Xueqin, a 30-year-old former journalist, was recently detained by Chinese police in the city of Guangzhou. Police charged her with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Huang shared her experience of sexual harassment in the workplace in 2017, and last year conducted an online survey of 2,000 women journalists about their experiences of harassment in the workplace. In her survey, 60 percent of respondents said they did not tell people about the harassment they experienced because they feared consequences for speaking publicly about the topic.

“I used to ask people’s opinions about #MeToo on Facebook, and got lots of support for advocating for the movement… However I found in China, under the conservative social climate, Chinese females tend to be less willing to voice their opinions publicly on this issue,” Huang said in an interview on Chinese television about the survey.

Huang’s report found more than 80 percent of female journalists had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

“I think prevention and education is needed… because some things are kind of still a taboo for Chinese people to talk about –  it’s absolutely not the topic you are going to talk about with your parents, so we don’t get the education from family, and even in university there is not that much about sex education,” Huang said, according to The Hong Kong Free Press.

Her report recommended that media companies “take the lead in establishing anti-sexual harassment mechanisms in the workplace, including prevention, education, investigation and confidential counseling,” the HKFP reports.

Huang is one of several women’s rights activists detained by the Chinese government in recent years. Five were detained just before International Women’s Day in 2015, also on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” They had planned demonstrations across the country against sexual harassment, and after their arrest, became known as the “feminist five.”

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media honors Huang, women journalists and activists throughout China who continue to bravely campaign for women’s rights.

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media Salutes Journalist Rana Ayyub for IWMF’s #journoheroes Month

Rana Ayyub, an investigative journalist, experiences threats and intimidation for her work in India – but she continues to press on. In recent months she has spoken out against growing censorship in Indian news organizations and a media crackdown by the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ayyub gained prominence and reknown for her undercover reporting work that culminated in her book, Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Coverup, which investigates mob riots in 2002 that culminated in the deaths of more than 1,000 Muslims in India.

Ayyub posed as an American film student and used secret cameras while meeting with sources and powerful officials, including Modi. Her recorded conversations raised questions about officials’ culpability in the violence.  

Last year, the book earned Ayyub the Most Resilient Global Journalist Award delivered at the Peace Palace in the Hague.

Like many women journalists, Ayyub has been subject to violent threats for her work. For some, those threats have become real. Her friend, Gauri Lankesh, was going to publish Ayyub’s reporting on the Gujarat riots. Lankesh’s newspaper in southwest India often reported on right-wing extremism. On September 5, 2017, gunmen assassinated Lankesh outside her home.

Ayyub says she receives frequent rape and death threats online in response to her reporting. According to the Hindustan Times, in the course of one week, Ayyub had been targeted in more than 2,500 abusive tweets.

In August Ayyub told VOA, “I certainly do feel that the women journalists, should report the threats that they face every day. I do not dismiss them as being harmless because I have seen many colleagues losing their lives by just dismissing the threats that come their way.”

Reporter Shreya Ila Anasuya wrote about the dangers for women journalists in India for “Women journalists have faced a range of physical violence while on the job, from being harassed, beaten, and molested, to being driven out of their homes and being killed. From Khabar Lahariya to Malini Subramaniam to Gauri Lankesh, the systematic targeting of women journalists has been severe. There has been some coverage of the disproportionate and gendered nature of this violence, and concerns about the severe way in which it threatens the existence of a free press in India.”

Ayyub says “the dangers she faces will not stop her from continuing to report”, and that “some of the biggest investigations in the country are being done by women.”

 She told VOA, “This is the time to be a journalist. This is the time to shine.”

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media salutes Ayyub for her bravery and courage in reporting. 

#UsToo: Building Trust in Newsrooms with the Poynter Institute and Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media Training Program

By Gloria Riviera, Journalist and Senior Strategist for Training and Development, Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media

Two years ago today, two words changed our lives: #MeToo. 

Journalism is not immune to the sexual harassment and abuses of power revealed by #MeToo. Today, October 15th, 2019, Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media in partnership with the Poynter Institute is releasing a new sexual harassment and abuse of power training program, “#UsToo: Building Trust in Newsrooms,” designed specifically for newsrooms to create a safe, civil, and secure workplace for all journalists. 

The hashtag #MeToo, along with the courageous reporting on Harvey Weinstein, cascaded into a barrage of reports about abuses of power across workplaces in America. The journalism industry was very much included in this; powerful figures in newsrooms allegedly harassed and abused their colleagues – sometimes over decades. It changed the directions of careers and harmed newsrooms by depleting diversity and eroding public trust. 

Journalists and all people deserve to work in environments with dignity, safety, and equality to do their best work. Period. No one should ever have to choose between dignity and employment. The fact that nearly two-thirds of female journalists will be harassed at some point in their careers (according to IWMF/ISNI) is not just sobering – it is unacceptable. 

That is why I joined Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media as a co-founder during the initial passion powering the #MeToo movement. I was joined by nearly a dozen other courageous women who had told their stories. Together we have worked to advance workplace culture in our newsrooms through training, education, research, and dialogue. 

I am particularly passionate about the need for radically redesigned sexual harassment and abuse of power training. We saw a gap that demanded evidence, data and research-based curriculum tailored to newsrooms. 

In reflecting on my own experience I see that there was a clear power imbalance between myself and my boss during the time I was harassed. I was not alone; of the 11 women reporting directly to him while covering the 2004 Presidential campaign at least four of us experienced direct harassment. We confided in one another and in that confidence understood we were not alone; that was an empowering realization. We did not report the incidences of harassment to Human Resources because we feared for our jobs and, rightly or wrongly, did not believe action would be swiftly taken. Instead, we shared and commiserated in our grievances among ourselves and mutually agreed upon self-protective behavior.

We did not clearly know what our rights were. We did not know what legal protection from our company we deserved. We did not understand what actionable options we had. This is what we seek to change in sexual harassment and abuse training in newsrooms today. 

Our Approach

Three priority goals became clear over the past two years. First and foremost, our new training had to be in person. Journalists are typically those who in some way, shape or form connect with personal stories. Bringing someone with deep experience in media into a newsroom to talk about issues that can be deeply uncomfortable and even shameful would revolutionize training. 

Our country is in the middle of an on-going conversation about sexual harassment and abuses of power. To ask journalists to know what to do when his or her power is being compromised based on digital training alone simply won’t work. A digital platform can and should support training. But employees need a conversation to understand the root issues behind harmful behavior and proceed to grow from that understanding. 

Second, our new training had to have real-life scenarios or examples that journalists would understand and respond to. Those scenarios had to resonate and spark conversation and debate over evaluating the people’s behavior in those scenarios: the perpetrator, the woman or man experiencing the harassment or abuse, the bystander, the manager, and any other relevant participants. We had to connect these issues to the values of journalism. When conversations of substance take place people grow and learn. At its core journalism is about being a voice for the voiceless and preventing abuses of power. When this core belief is compromised, newsrooms can breed harassment and abuse. 

Third, our training must be multi-lateral and include all those from the newest intern to the most senior manager. And no matter what training one takes, it all has to be transparent. An employee must know what the most junior to the most senior employee is receiving in terms of training. We do not clearly see any of the focal points mentioned above offered in current training. 

We are honored that The Wall Street Journal is the first to pilot our new program. We will continue to monitor and measure its effectiveness as we scale our training across newsrooms nationally.

We at Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media believe in a radical restructuring of sexual harassment and abuse of power training. This must happen to empower newsrooms and to enable all those in media to succeed. This is a cause I have been eager to directly work on and support, and I look forward to introducing newsrooms across the country to our new training.

Learn more about the training program here or through an article by Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media Chief Visionary Officer and Co-Founder, Carolyn McGourty Supple and SVP, Poynter Institute, Kelly McBride: #UsToo: Building Trust in Newsrooms from their newsletter The Cohort.

By Gloria Riviera, Journalist and Senior Strategist for Training and Development, Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media Salutes Maria Ressa for the IWMF’s #journoheroes Month

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media celebrates journalist Maria Ressa for the IWMF’s #journoheroes month. Ressa has undertaken great risks to tell the truth and pursue investigative journalism in the Philippines. 

After working as an investigative reporter for CNN and head of news for the Philippine TV station ABS-CBN, Ressa founded Rappler, a digital news media site based in Manila. Her news organization has earned a large audience, and it is growing, but it has also garnered the attention of the government and President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Duterte first singled out Rappler in his in his State of the Nation speech in 2017.  Since January 2018, Ressa says she has had to post bail eight times, and the government has charged her with tax evasion, defamation, and violation of security laws.

She has vowed to press on, and Rappler has led investigations of corruption by the government, and its widespread of use of trolls and disinformation through social media platforms to curry political support and win elections. 

Ressa and her colleagues have also aggressively covered Duterte’s war on drugs, in which thousands of people have been killed. According to The Financial Times, “Duterte has presided over more deaths of his own people than any leader in south-east Asia since Cambodia’s Pol Pot.”

Center for Ethical Leadership in the Media salutes Ressa, and her women-led team at Rappler. 

Ressa told the FT, “Maybe they [the Philippine government] don’t know the founders of Rappler. We don’t intimidate easily, the women of Rappler.”

#journoheroes @IWMF

Lessons for Preventing Sexual Assault & Abuse

The New York Times had a recent article on how to give a child tools to recognize sexual abuse. “Statistics show at least one in 10 children in the United States will be sexually abused before their 18th birthdays — it’s a topic we cannot ignore,” the author, Shani Zoldan-Verschleiser, writes. Zoldan-Verschleiser is the CEO of Magenu, an organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse.

As I was reading the article, I thought many of the tools that children should have to prevent abuse, are also tools that women should employ – but are often discouraged from doing so by society.

“Teach children that their feelings matter and that they deserve respect. For parents, this does not mean that children get to run the house or do whatever they please, but it does mean that when a child shares a feeling, we validate it,” the article reads.

Women must also realize that their feelings matter. When colleagues, superiors or HR ignore complaints of sexual harassment or abuse, they are implicitly communicating to women that their feelings are not valid.

The article goes on to read, “Being able to recognize our feelings is the first step in knowing when something doesn’t feel right. Predators rely on the fact that children can be easily manipulated. Children who have a better sense of what feels O.K. and what doesn’t — and are able to receive validation by communicating those feelings to trusted adults — are at a big advantage.”

For a long time, sexual harassment and abuse of women were accepted in the office place and society. Now, with the #metoo movement, it is important for women to work on recognizing their feelings. Predators of all kinds rely on people who can be manipulated. Women should also develop a strong sense of what feels O.K. and what doesn’t, and receive validation from peers, superiors, friends and family, when they communicate those feelings.

The article instructs parents “to model what it means to listen to our gut feelings.” That is a good skill for all people to develop.

The article reads, “Your body is so special and it belongs to you, no one is allowed to touch you because this is your body. If anyone does, you tell Mommy right away because my job is to keep you safe and touching, especially on your private parts, can be unsafe.”

Again, the article focuses on children. But let’s take the above paragraph, and apply it to women. The cases that have been illuminated and revealed by the #metoo movement have shown that in many instances, women are not taught that their bodies are special, and that they belong to them.

The article instructs parents to tell their children the following: “No one is allowed to make you feel uncomfortable, even if that person is your cousin, uncle, aunt or neighbor. It’s never O.K., and I will always believe you.”

With this sentence, if applied to women, for many years society has implicitly taught women that it is okay if they feel uncomfortable, and if they tell people about harassment, abuse or assault, many will not believe them. So often, women have kept these stories of harassment and assault a secret. But secrets aren’t healthy, the article goes onto say:

“A secret that can never be told is not O.K. and can make us feel yucky, confused or sad. This is a crucial concept for children, because predators will try to have children keep their secret.”

Secrets aren’t healthy for anyone to keep. They create a sense of shame that is unwarranted. The article also instructs adults to “ask for permission to touch a child.”

“When we ask children for small permissions, we are giving them the sense that they have control over their bodies … Something as small as asking, ‘Is it O.K. if I fix your collar? It’s turned up,’ sends a message to a child that he has some autonomy over his body. Practicing dialogue like this can go a long way in helping a child realize that a predator will not ask permission, and it will help him spot those tricky people.”

Some may feel that aspects of the #metoo have gone too far, such as asking for consent on dates, or criticism of unwanted hugs. However, this may be an important exercise and debate to have as women begin to recognize and voice their boundaries, and other people become more adept at listening to and respecting them.

“Empower kids to say ‘no’ and talk openly. Encouraging emotional honesty and physical boundaries helps kids gain some control over their bodies. Letting a child say, ‘No, I don’t want a hug, but a handshake is O.K.’ shows her that she has choices. Still, children may not be able to say ‘no’ to their abuser or stop the abuse. Most children who are sexually abused do not disclose their abuse, so we need to tell children that even if they can’t say ‘no,’ even if they can’t get away, the most important thing to do is to tell someone about the abuse. Tell them that you will believe them no matter what happens, and they will not get into trouble for telling you.”

The above paragraph is probably the most important – it’s crucial for all people to be empowered with the ability to say “No.” No to any behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable. And then it is also important to be empowered to tell people, and for your feelings to be validated, and experiences to be believed.

These lessons are crucial for children, and also for adults and all of society. I hope with the #metoo movement we are on the path to developing and inculcating these standards within ourselves and our communities.

The Radical Transformations of a Battered Women’s Shelter

I read this article to learn about the abuse of women, the history of battered women’s shelters, and if there was an intersection between these issues and the #metoo movement.

Similar to domestic violence against women, there has been a growing awareness that violence of any kind whether it is between partners in a home, or a form of sexual assault in a newsroom or office, is not okay. While that may seem obvious now, for many years this was acceptable, and to such an extent that when extreme forms of harassment or assault happened in news organizations, entire newsrooms chose to look the other way.

This New Yorker article traces the history of women’s shelters in the U.S., and the movement to combat domestic violence. Similar to the history the New Yorker article describes, there are debates within the #metoo movement over how to combat harassment, assault and abuse within the workplace, and those debates will continue.

Activists and experts on domestic violence say there is an intersectionality between their work with victims of partner abuse, and the #metoo movement. Suzanne Dubus, CEO of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, says, “I have been thinking a lot about the connections between our work with survivors of domestic violence and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. These social media movements have great power in that they collect the hundreds of thousands or millions of stories that women have about being harassed, assaulted and abused. They allow survivors to tell their stories with as little detail or as much as they want to share. They give those watching a sense of the enormity and depth of this problem and inspire many men to question their own behaviors and explore their responsibility to be part of the solution. They amplify the voices of survivors and have the potential to create sweeping change in our response to survivors, in our beliefs and behaviors, and in our policies and practices.”

Journalist Rachel Louise Snyder recently published a book called “No Visible Bruises” about why many women stay with their abusive partners and don’t report then.

She was engrossed in writing the book when the #MeToo movement began building steam in the fall of 2017. “Domestic violence is not something new, nor is sexual assault, but I think #MeToo opened the door for conversations to happen on a national level and on a policy level,” she said.

Both movements seem to be marked by a realization among the victims themselves, and then more broadly in society, that these acts/behavior are in fact abuse, and that they are no longer acceptable.

Corporate Magnanimity – Is It A Path To Real Change?

NYT Article on “Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say”

“Chief executives from the Business Roundtable, including the leaders of Apple and JPMorgan Chase, argued that companies must also invest in employees and deliver value to customers.”

In 1970, Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist, wrote in The New York Times that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

This may be changing. Earlier this month nearly 200 of America’s top chief executives issued a statement on “the purpose of a corporation,” arguing that instead of advancing only the interests of shareholders, companies must “invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”

The statement said chief executives “share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” vowing to “protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses” and “foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.”

That could be welcome news for women, for whom inclusion, dignity and respect are crucial issues. How would corporate CEOs advance their company if they kept the needs of the most vulnerable employees at the forefront of their minds? To do so would improve parity and mobility within organizations, and more broadly in society.

Nancy Koehn, a historian at Harvard Business School, told the NYT, “They’re responding to something in the zeitgeist. They perceive that business as usual is no longer acceptable.”

But, she added, “It’s an open question whether any of these companies will change the way they do business.”

The roundtable of CEOs did not publish an action plan, or specific means of accomplishing these goals.

Anand Giridharadas, the author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” told the NYT, “If the Business Roundtable is serious, it should tomorrow throw its weight behind legislative proposals that would put the teeth of the law into these boardroom platitudes. Corporate magnanimity and voluntary virtue are not going to solve these problems.”

The #metoo movement is just one of many pressures companies have faced over the last few years. We hope that when assessing diversity and inclusion, executives begin to incorporate lessons learned from the #metoo movement on how to empower and support women at all levels of an organization.

Imposter Syndrome: We All Feel It

“Imposter syndrome,” or that feeling that you just don’t belong or deserve your success, impacts women and minority groups disproportionately at work, according to The New York Times.

I was struck by this article, having felt “impostor syndrome” many times. Does my voice, opinion or expertise really count? Is it of value? I think many women question themselves, and the value of their contributions, in a meeting or newsroom.

The article reads, “[Impostor syndrome] persists through college and graduate school and into the working world, where women tend to judge their performance as worse than they objectively are while men judge their own as better.”

This is a problem for women and minorities’ advancement because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If women feel self-conscious about their contributions and judge their performance as worse than others in a room, then they are less likely to speak up, take on challenges, or seize prominent opportunities.

The NYT reports women tend to undermine their experience or expertise and devalue their worth. The column reminds me of a talk former First Lady Michelle Obama gave in London. She said, “I still have a little imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me.”

“It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts about our abilities, about our power and what that power is.”

Obama’s advice to young women is “to start by getting those demons out of your head.”

“The question I ask myself— ‘am I good enough?—that haunts us, because the messages that are sent from the time we are little is: Maybe you are not. Don’t reach too high. Don’t talk too loud,” Obama said.

And Obama offered a “secret” to young women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

The NYT article includes a number of recommendations for overcoming Imposter Syndrome, including: own your accomplishments; visualize what success looks like; and make a list of your qualifications.

The article’s recommendations are well worth a read. Creating parity in the workplace requires not only structural and societal change, but also women and minorities believing that they are, in fact, equal, and deserving of the seniority and salary that that equality merits.

Article Link Here:

Ethical Compass

Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.:  “You have got to have a compass. Your ethics are so important … You can be courageous; communicate beautifully; have competence, but if you’re downright unethical, no one will follow you.”

Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.:  “You have got to have a compass. Your ethics are so important … You can be courageous; communicate beautifully; have competence, but if you’re downright unethical, no one will follow you.”

In this video, Indra Nooyi, the former Chairman, and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc., offers career advice. She urges employees to communicate well, and develop expertise and competence. Above all, Nooyi says, aspiring leaders should have an ethical compass. 

Sometimes, in a rush to get to the top, or succeed within an organization, ethics are an afterthought. Increasing an audience, ratings, or market share becomes the driving goal, inspiring employees to press ahead in pursuit of those targets. But in that pursuit, cornerstone values of truth, accountability, decency, and kindness can be lost. 

Every employee is a human being, and to maximize their potential and contributions to an organization, management should treat them as such. This means insisting on truth and accountability from every member of an organization, and also listening to employees when they tell the truth, even if that is a truth management may not want to hear. 

These values mean organizations should hold each person accountable for expressing their strengths and producing great work, but also for their weaknesses. If there is an ethical or moral lapse among staff, that shouldn’t be overlooked by the company in their rush to success. To do so corrodes company culture, and increases the risk of future litigation for the organization. 

Leaders set the tone and company culture for the entire organization. If a CEO sets strong ethical standards for a company, those filter down to the staff, and establishes a guideline for what is and isn’t acceptable in the office. 

Leading people so they are inspired and empowered to operate at their optimum best means being a leader in values and ethics. It means creating a workplace where doing the right thing – not just what is expedient – is an essential stepping stone to success for the entire company. Leaders with an ethical compass, who also produce the audience, ratings or market share which a company seeks, have the potential to be the most inspiring of all.

Fistbump to Working Moms

“There’s a lot of talk about why women work,” says Kathleen McGinn, the study’s author and a professor at Harvard Business School. “A lot of those questions presume that, somehow, it’s detrimental to their families. That’s a whole bunch of ‘mother guilt’ based on almost no findings.”

The real impact of working moms is most evident in their daughters. The researchers found that women who grew up with working mothers are more likely to have careers themselves than those with stay at home moms, and they’re also more likely to have better, higher paying jobs…Sons, for their part, grow up to spend more time doing household chores and caring for their kids if their mothers had careers. In the U.S., that translates to about eight more hours a week spent folding laundry, changing diapers, and doing other kinds of domestic duties — nearly twice as much as sons of stay-at-home moms, they found.

It’s about time someone crunched the data and gave us some good news! As a Mom who has done it all — work more than full-time in a demanding, high-pressure career, work part-time, and not work at all — I have struggled to find the right balance for me (as an individual, for me as a mother and wife, and for me as a career woman). It is such a personal decision and one where there is no definitive correct answer. Many women don’t have a choice whether they can work or not – often they must work to make ends meet.  But as the US Labor Dept. statistics show, women make up 48% of the workforce now. And the number we should really be paying attention to is the fact that 40% of working mothers with children under the age of 18 are sole or primary breadwinners. So whether we do this because we want to or do it because we have to, the fact remains, working mothers are in the workforce and that number is growing. So how does it affect our kids? As other studies have shown globally, society and culture is set by the norms around us. “At the root of this phenomenon is the way children internalize social mores, and the behaviors modeled by the adults around them. People tend to have “more egalitarian” views on gender roles if they had working mothers” the article concludes. One of the reasons I did go back to work full-time was for the example I wanted to set for my daughter. If she could see me being a successful working Mom, this is something I hope, one day, she can be proud of.  But the benefit, to me, as a working mother is more than being a role model for her, but because I am truly happier working and producing something outside of the traditional family social and hierarchical structure. God gave me a brain — I like to use it. It’s working full time, over-time, all the time, so why not put it to good use? Again, this is an individual decision, and one shouldn’t judge – no matter what the decision is. If a woman wants to be a stay-at-home Mom with 5 kids, then I absolutely applaud and bow down to her. That is not something I could ever do. If she wants to work full-time and leave her parenting duties to others, that’s her right too. We are not here to judge, and I honestly feel women should get out of the habit of being so harsh on one another. We should be supporting each other, helping each other find our own internal balance. But for those of us who do struggle privately whether working has had a detrimental effect on your kids, this article is most definitely a ‘fistbump’ to cherish!