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GUEST AUTHOR: Amanda Keefer On Navigating The Produce Workspace In A ‘Me Too’ World


[EDITOR’S NOTE – Amanda Keefer is the Director of Marketing Communications for Produce for Kids. If you have an article you or idea you’d like to contribute to SPW, send it to us at info@southeastproduceweekly.com.]

If you haven’t heard at least whisperings about the Me Too movement, it’s safe to say you might be residing inside a bubble of solitude. The movement sprung upon us out of the blue with sexual misconduct allegations against famed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag #MeToo spiraled uncontrollably across social media as countless victims came forward to tell their own stories.

Person after person found the strength to speak out as #MeToo spread like wildfire across Twitter. As actors were plucked from our favorite Netflix series’ and we awoke to an empty seat on the Today Show set, we all waited with bated breath to find out who would be next.

And each time, in our house at least, there was a deep sigh, a heavy heart and a “I never would have thought this.” As a parent, I could not believe I was explaining what this all meant to an 11-year-old. (But that’s a different article for a different time.)

I can imagine once Me Too began to gain steam, any and all public figures had to be (and most likely still are) contemplating if they had ever done anything that could possibly be misconstrued as sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct.

Suddenly I found my own self reviewing incidents that happened in my professional life that seemed trivial at the time, but should they have occurred today, in February of 2018, might have taken on a different life.

It’s Not About Feminism, Politics, or Hollywood…

If you think the Me Too movement is isolated to the entertainment and political world, you are very wrong. If you think this is a feminist movement, you are also wrong.

This is a movement that is long overdue. If the movement doesn’t cause you pause, it should. I guarantee that right now there is someone at your place of employment contemplating an incident and gaining strength through Me Too to speak out. It’s a new frontier and unfortunately there will be casualties.

There will be people who will sadly be forced into early retirement or be let go from a position they love due to comments or actions that were not meant to harm. If you haven’t had the conversation with your employees, add it to your next HR agenda.

If your employer hasn’t had the conversation with you, ask the question why. It is now more important than ever to not only hear employees out, but create a safe environment where they feel comfortable to do so.

The lines have become blurred. Things that might have been acceptable and overlooked in the past are now under scrutiny and we all need to take notice.

At the end of the day, we are still people, who care about other people. We are people doing business and building our careers. We are people who need to be just a little more mindful. I don’t think we need to be fearful of the new atmosphere. We all just need a little extra dose of common sense and thoughtfulness to help us on our way as we navigate this new frontier.

When the dust settles and the smoke clears (and truly, there will be more dust and smoke before this is over), Me Too allows all of us to be more aware and more thoughtful in our actions and in the words we choose.

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