From Harvey Weinstein to Roy Moore to Al Franken to the millions of #MeToo stories shared online, these last few weeks come as a reminder about how far we still need to go to have a truly equal society. The countless stories of sexual assault and harassment have made most of us angry but, unfortunately, they aren’t entirely shocking.
The women who have come forward showed tremendous courage, and it’s not enough to provide support after they speak out about being subjected to sexual misconduct. Rather, we must start making real, meaningful changes today to reduce and eliminate this disgraceful behavior in the future.
Changing the culture that has allowed sexual harassment and assault to become so widespread won’t be easy — especially when sexism is so ingrained in our society — but that hard work is necessary to finally move to a place where women have equality.
Right now, women are too often evaluated based on different criteria than men, and they are subjected to different treatment in our unequal society as a result. Simply acknowledging this reality is one of the first steps in the process of changing our cultural norms.
We need to ensure that we have more women in leadership positions. I’m proud that women hold the majority of senior staff positions on my campaign, including as my campaign manager and field director, and I’m committed to always making sure women have a seat at the table in senior decision-making roles.
We can also take some immediate steps to reduce harassment. In the workplace, we all have a responsibility to create a harassment-free environment. My campaign takes that responsibility seriously and has a zero-tolerance policy for any type of harassment, including verbal, physical and sexual harassment.
When volunteers, interns, or new staff come into our campaign office, we review our sexual harassment policy with each of them. I want to make absolutely certain that everyone knows he or she can tell any senior staff member if there’s a problem, and we have a process in place to handle the complaint appropriately.
As a candidate and in office, my zero-tolerance policy also means I won’t support anyone with allegations like these against them — whether it be another candidate, a member of my own staff, or a member of Congress. And I will always support pro-woman policies.
Unfortunately, almost every woman has experienced an unwanted sexual advance, and millions of women have been sexually assaulted. It’s not enough to condemn this pervasive problem after the fact. Instead, we must take concrete steps to show that we are truly committed to a society where women and men are equal and treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Bryan Caforio is a Democratic candidate for California’s 25th Congressional District and a consumer rights attorney who lives in Santa Clarita.