What’s next for CVS after its #MeToo moment?
In its own #MeToo moment, CVS on Friday said it fired several employees, including executives, following an internal investigation into how the company handled sexual harassment complaints.
The drugstore retailer, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal, said an anonymous report in late 2021 about alleged misconduct by one of its field management leaders led to an independent investigation by an outside firm. CVS subsequently “terminated the individual and others have since been exited from the company for failing to treat allegations with the seriousness we expect.”
The company also said it will overhaul how it handles similar complaints in the future. CEO Karen Lynch wrote in an internal memo, “I want to be crystal clear: this company does not tolerate harassment or hostile, abusive or discriminatory behaviors of any kind from any employee — regardless of position.”
The #MeToo movement began in Hollywood in October 2017 in response to charges against film producer Harvey Weinstein but broadened into a wider revolt against against sexual harassment and empowering gender equailty across corporate America.
A wide range of high-profile executives and managers lost their jobs over 2018 and 2019. In the retail space, Nike, Barnes & Noble, Tapestry, McDonald’s, Lululemon, Under Armour, Guess and Victoria’s Secret were among those vilified in the press over untoward workplace incidents.
By October, 2018, an Ipsos/NPR study found 69 percent of Americans agreeing that #MeToo had created an environment in which those accused of assault or harassment will be held accountable for their actions, yet 43 percent felt the movement had gone too far.
In October 2019, a YouGov/The Economist survey still found notable disagreement among men and women about the boundaries of acceptable behavior in the workplace relative to surveys taken over the same period in 2018 and 2017.
More encouragingly, a survey of Americans from NGO Blueprint conducted in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and YouGov taken in fall 2021 found male leaders following #MeToo are more inclusive (56 percent), more cautious (56 percent), more empathic (39 percent) and more collaborative (30 percent) than before.
- CVS Ousts Executives After Internal Probe, Vows to Overhaul How It Handles Sexual-Harassment Complaints – The Wall Street Journal
- CVS fires several employees and executives after internal sexual harassment investigation – CNBC
- Despite #MeToo, opinions on sexual harassment have barely budged – The Economist
- On #MeToo, Americans More Divided By Party Than Gender – NPR
- Male leaders have become more inclusive, empathic, and collaborative following #MeToo, Time’s Up and Black Lives Matter – Blueprint
- Gender Equity at Work Advances at ‘Glacial Pace,’ New Harvard Survey Shows – Newsweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How confident are you that #MeToo and related movements have had a positive impact on workplace behavior? What must companies do to make clear to all employees what the boundaries are related to appropriate workplace behavior?