The #MeToo movement and Public Relations

As the #MeToo movement takes Indian Twitter by storm there is a high probability it will hit the world of Public Relations. It already has brought up couple of names. And more may tumble out. Advertising, Public Relations, Cinema, Journalism have a high number of women and these professionals involve long working hours and sometimes a high amount of travel. The chances of friendliness bordering on harassment are high in work situations.

There are multiple layers that are at play:

  • Within the PR company or corporate communications department
  • Between the communication professional and journalist
  • Between client and the consultancy professional and
  • Between other stakeholders and employees

This is then mixed with various forms of interaction. Sometimes there are situations where women can harass men. This is mostly parked under mental harassment. Then there are situations that are more common of a superior harassing a subordinate and when the former is a man, the chances are that this is sexual harassment.

The best way to navigate this is by following the principle of 6 Ts and 1 O:

Don’t –

  • Touch inappropriately
  • Talk insensitively
  • Text filthy
  • Taunt with sexual overtones
  • Think loudly that brings discomfort and
  • Ogle in a manner that amounts to unease

With this structure in place there needs to be a support group that is available that one can count on, reach out to and get counsel from when the situation becomes untenable. Most important every professional needs to understand the concept of Consent where a No is a No and anything other than a Yes is a No.

With this backdrop women at work need to be assured that within and outside the workplace there is a group available to them when all else fails.

The advertising and cinema world have seen that happen over the weekend where a few women have taken the lead in coming forward to take a stand and send a message that they will not tolerate predators of sexual harassment. Public Relations and corporate communications also needs such a cohort of women that will rally together and offer the voiceless a voice and bring sense to what has generally been pushed under the carpet.

If you are a woman who would like to be part of this network of leaders who can assure fellow women that you are available for them, then sign up by leaving your name in the comment or writing to anubhuti at promisefoundation dot com, she will connect you to a set of volunteers who have already raised their hand to ensure a safe and happy workplace for all.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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