#MeToo Consciousness: Public & Private Company Boards Lagging

April 13, 2018

Venture capital firms leading when it comes to tackling sexual harassment

By Eve Tahmincioglu

It’s time for corporate and private company boards to catch up!

That’s the directive from theBoardlist, a board placement firm focused on getting more women in public and private boardrooms that just released the findings of a survey gauging the ongoing governance impact of the #MeToo movement. The study sheds light on how seriously private and public company directors have taken the international outcry against sexual harassment.

theBoardlist, along with data analytics firm Qualtrics, first surveyed board members last summer, right after #MeToo first hit the headlines, and the news wasn’t encouraging. The study found nearly 80% of the 400 directors polled hadn’t even discussed the issue.

(Related Article: Sexual Harassment: Boards Can’t Be Silent-Company policies and more women on boards could stem financial fallout.)

But the followup poll – taken in February and March and released this week – found some improvement. theBroadlist found there was improvement in discussions, but a majority of boards, 57%, still had not even broached the topic.

Why?

The survey found that “for those board members who reported that their boards still had not discussed the topic, reasons given ranged from ‘threatening to our CEO’ to various themes of ‘not seen as relevant’ or ‘lack of prioritization’.”

Even more surprising is that directors were being mum on the topic, even though “two-thirds of respondents who sit on a board (64%) report having personally experienced a ‘MeToo’ moment in their careers.”

The one bright spot was venture capital firms.

The study found that among VCs:

89% of respondents said that the #MeToo movement, sexually inappropriate behavior and/or sexism had been addressed (up from 83% in the previous survey).

Over half (54%) report that they have plans to or have already taken action as a result of these revelations.

Additionally, over two-thirds (68%) of VC’s report advising their smaller companies that don’t have HR departments to do so as well.

To read more of the findings click here.