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The Value of Respect

The Value of Respect

Stories are too common about issues of inequality, and also negative treatment or exclusion of women across multiple industries.

The #metoo movement in the entertainment industry is a big one, as high-profile people always have a curious public peering into their lives. The media industry is right there, too. Several top names in news were ousted after years-long disrespectful behavior was revealed.

But the same things happen to the non-famous of us, too.

It’s incredulous on one level. How could SO MANY women have these things happen to them over decades and nothing changed. Rhetorical question. 

Sometimes, a joke or HR-questionable comment is brushed off. We tolerate it. But then there’s a second comment, and then more. If it’s coming from someone who is a superior in the business structure, so many dynamics at stake there.

And when these encounters happen when we are young, it’s often not until we look back in our wiser years that we have a greater perspective. 

I’ve witnessed enough inappropriate workplace behavior. Even as recent as the end of 2019. 

I learned a lot after becoming one of only eight female sports editors in the country in the late ‘90s. I was in my early 20s, and garnering respect as a young woman in what is considered a man’s field was eye-opening. You think you know a lot more when you’re 24 than when you’re 44… so thankfully I moved through my career with confidence and class.

But supervising a department of 15 men was no cakewalk. The resentment festered like rotten garbage. It culminated one evening when I received an internal message about myself — a complaint about the boss someone THOUGHT he sent to another man across the aisle.

Resentment fuels dissatisfaction, but we strong women can deal with that. But letting harassment persist is inexcusable and can create deep-rooted emotional issues.

I’m privy to an incident regarding a former female colleague that still enrages me. Younger than myself and a rising star in sports journalism, she was sexually harassed by her boss. The company moved her to another department, nothing happened to the male supervisor, NDA signed. 

How many times are we hearing this story lately? 

As a mother to a young girl — in the entertainment industry, no less — I am hyper aware and seek to remain educated on issues of inequality, underrepresentation and harassment. More protections are in place than ever before, and we as a human race generally seem more educated and aware. 

But human trafficking is a prime example of the seedy sexual undertones of our existence. If that is the extreme end of the scale, a sexual joke or innuendo at the workplace is the other end. 

Women and minorities deserve a workplace with respect. Let’s see how much more progress we can make in this area. For our daughters’ sake.

— Lee Nessel

Instagram: @lee_nessel

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