#TimesUp Takes Off

The first time many of us heard about #TimesUp was at the Golden Globe Awards in early January 2018, just a month and a half ago. Essentially, the Time’s Up Initiative is an organization formed by women in Hollywood in response to the #MeToo movement. Created to stamp out “sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace”, the organization aims to address the issue across all industries, not just in entertainment. And they are off to a great start.

Last week, Time’s Up announced that the organization has raised more than $20 million from 20,000 donors in about six weeks—an incredible sum for any organization, let alone a start-up right out of the gate. The donations, according to the announcement made at the 2018 MAKERS Conference, will support the organization’s Legal Defense Fund, housed at the National Women’s Law Center. Already, more than 1,000 women from a variety of industries have contacted the group for help. Through the Legal Defense Fund, the National Women’s Law Center will connect those who have experienced assault, harassment, and/or retaliation in the workplace with attorneys who can provide assistance. And, augmenting the monetary donations, more than 200 attorneys have volunteered to work pro bono on these cases.

Although Time’s Up was formed by 300 women in the entertainment industry, the organization is designed to support women in all industries. Reports of harassment in the entertainment, political, and media fields have garnered headlines and attention, but one of the most problematic industries is actually the service sector. Restaurants, retail, and hotels have among the highest rates of harassment and assault—much of it unreported.

An analysis by the Center for American Progress of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data from the last decade (2005-2015) shows that “more than one-quarter of sexual harassment charges were filed in industries with large numbers of service-sector workers, including many low-wage jobs that are often occupied by women….The largest number of claims were found in the accommodation and food services industry, followed by retail trade, manufacturing, and health care industries.”

According to a NBC News poll, nearly half of working women say they have experienced workplace harassment and 41 percent of currently employed men have witnessed inappropriate conduct toward female colleagues.

Despite all the money raised by Time’s Up to combat the epidemic of harassment and abuse that women are increasingly willing to speak up about, not everyone gets it. Over the last week, two alleged abusers were forced to resign from positions in the Trump administration. Granted, these two men are accused of abusing women with whom they were in personal relationships, rather than women they worked with. But no less than the President and his Chief of Staff were willing to jump to the defense of their male co-workers in a way that seems calculated to undermine attempts to hold abusers responsible.

Trump tweeted over the weekend, “Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Of course, that defense makes a little more sense when you recall the fact that Trump would not be President if the American electorate believed any of the many women who have accused him of workplace harassment and assault.

The early success of the Time’s Up Initiative is evidence that a large segment of the public is waking up to the seriousness of the issue. As their website proclaims, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.”  Even if the White House isn’t yet ready to wake up.