A majority of companies still aren't discussing sexual harassment at the board level because directors don't consider it a problem at their firm – and many women directors are wary of bringing it up.
Even after high-profile cases at Uber Technologies Inc. and Twenty-First Century Inc.'s Fox News, 77 per cent of directors said harassment hadn't yet been a topic of boardroom discussion, according to an August survey of 600 directors at public and private companies by TheBoardlist and Qualtrics. Women, who made up a majority of the respondents, said they were wary of bringing it up because male counterparts sent signals that it's not a priority, according to the survey released Tuesday.
"Boards are learning about what's happening inside their companies through crisis, and that tells us something is broken," TheBoardlist founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy said in an interview. "For me is shows that there is a gaping hole that boards have an opportunity to address."
So, why aren't directors talking? Reasons cited included that the topic "just hasn't come up," "board members are men," and it wouldn't be "well-received." The survey, which predated this month's uproar involving harassment allegations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, will be repeated in six months.
"It is a disturbing survey," Cassidy said. "Corporate governance today is much more used to dealing with things like financial risk, and audit risk, and compensation. Yet they don't talk about culture and culture risk."