With recent societal movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, where more and more powerful men have been outed on sexual harassment charges, it seems like the days of leaders being too powerful to fall are over. Technology has enabled women (and men) to share their stories of being harassed, humiliated and abused in the workplace and in their personal lives. While its incredibly troubling that this sort of treatment was brushed under the rug for so long, the bright side is that we are reconsidering the ways we treat others within our organizations and our lives. Collectively, we are raising our standards.
As an ethical fashion founder, even I have to check myself and do my best to maintain patience with my team members. If I’m going to be honest with you, when my team messes up, I get mad. I guess the reason stems from fear: it’s my name and reputation on the line if things don’t work out, not theirs. If I don’t check myself, this frustration has the potential to be displayed as impatience or even disrespect. I do my best to treat interns with the same respect that I treat investors and customers.
But that doesn’t reduce the stress of being a business owner and wanting things to be done the right way- every time. Entrepreneurs have the need to express our frustration with non-compliance with our organization’s standards. However, we have to find the means to express ourselves in a constructive and respectful ways.
As I ponder the motivations of powerful leaders abusing their positions, I always come back to a principle I believe strongly in. Treating others as you yourself would want to be treated. Or in other words, simply doing the right thing. We all have an internal moral compass that tells us whether we should pocket the wallet we find on the street or try to find its owner; whether to abuse those you hire or treat them with the same respect that we treat your superiors.
These are the top 3 reasons why time is up and industry leaders must do the right thing in business, and in life.
Transparency & Community
The internet has created a level of transparency and micro-communities never before seen. Hashtags like #MeToo make it possible for harassment victims to begin conversations, share their stories and offer each other support. Employees can go to sites like GlassDoor.com and share what it’s really like to work for your company. They can tweet grievances or write you an open letter online. In 2018, if you built your business or your brand on intimidation, abuse or harassment of any kind, your days are likely numbered. It’s only a matter of time before your bad behavior is exposed. In today’s culture of transparency, how you act will be known: whether discussed by your team behind your back, by your professional circle, or known by the entire world.
Your Moda Operandi
I try to imagine what abusive leaders who are still in power must be feeling as the #Metoo exposures rage on. Their lives must be incredibly stressful no? To see their contemporaries’ actions brought to light, crumbling lifelong reputations and in some cases business empires. Living in fear of if they will be next to be exposed. That must feel awful; it must be scary and stressful. It must feel like they are standing at the edge of a cliff and everything they have worked for could tumble off the edge at any moment with one accusation from an assistant they abused 20 years ago.
Compare that feeling to leaders who have done and continue to do right by their team members. They don’t have that nagging fear of exposure. They are free. They know the people that work for them only have kind things to say about them when they leave a room. Leaders who act with integrity experience the freedom of being a good person with a well-built reputation, not a reputation built on intimidation and fear.
There are so many ways to express this universal law. Lauren Hill said in her 1998 song Lost Ones: “Never underestimate those who you scar, Cause karma, karma, karma comes back to you hard.” In the bible, Luke 8;17 says, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” The movie The Craft quotes it as, “Understand this: whatever you send out there you get back times three.” Some people call it ‘just desserts’, or “that which one deserves”. What goes around comes around.
I love witnessing people who have done bad tumble down hard. Not because I want to see them suffer, but because it reinforces my belief in karma. It also helps me know that those who have done right by others will experience those positive rewards.
It’s 2018 and time’s up. It’s not ok to be a crappy person any more. The way you treat others says more about you than it does about those who you mistreat. Do the right thing in business, and in life. If you don’t, your victims will eventually heal, and in the end, the only person who will be left hurting is you.