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US Ad Firms Grapple With ‘Me Too'

By: Pinki Tue, 09 Oct 2018 3:23 PM

US ad firms grapple with ‘Me Too'

Some of corporate America’s dirty secrets were aired this week at a conference that overlapped the anniversary of the “Me Too” movement and the contentious debate over Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed as the latest Supreme Court justice on Saturday. An Advertising Week session on human resources veered between confession and crusading.

One speaker described the indignity of being harassed while pregnant. Others discussed soul-crushing details of working on non-disclosure agreements for harassment victims paid off to leave the company and keep quiet. Advertising — a field that like entertainment sometimes rewards those who push the boundaries — is yet another industry that has seen executives pushed out of major firms following allegations of sexual misconduct. “There are a lot of ways in which HR has been complicit,” said Rebecca Weaver, cofounder of HR Uprise, an activist group launched over the last year.

“If you’ve ever sent out that email saying ‘so and so has resigned to explore other opportunities’, you’re lying to your team,” said Weaver, who called for a “reckoning” in HR policies for the longtime good of the industry. The conference was held as the US reeled over the nomination — and eventual confirmation — of Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court after several women accused him of sexual assault while in the 1980s. The Kavanaugh allegations came a year into the “Me Too” uprising spawned by horror stories of Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and other serial harassers usually aided by a phalanx of corporate henchmen.

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