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Professor Christina Yoder Addresses Moving Forward From #MeToo

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Assistant Professor of Management Christina Yoder, Ph.D., remembers being astounded in October 2017 as her social media feeds filled with the #MeToo stories of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination from her friends, family and coworkers. She added her story and then shortly thereafter began to research the movement’s impact on the workplace.

Yoder is passionate about conducting research on gender in the workplace, the subject of her doctoral dissertation, her continuing research and a recent talk at the Frederick campus.

“MeToo shook up the workplace socially and organizationally,” said Yoder in presenting a lecture titled “Moving Forward From #MeToo,” part of the 20/20 Lecture Series: Celebrating 20 Years of the Mount in Frederick and Looking to the Future. “We are still trying to figure out the impact.”

Yoder peppered her talk with examples of the challenges she faced related to gender discrimination and harassment during her nearly a decade as a manager in the banking industry. The phrase “Me Too” was initially used on social media in 2006 on MySpace by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke. In 2017, the movement began to expand on social media, becoming viral when actress Alyssa Milano suggested that all the women who had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted write “MeToo” as a status.

Although the #MeToo movement brought gender discrimination and harassment issues to the forefront of the workplace and society, it also led to unintended consequences that have stalled progress on gender diversity and inclusion. Among those consequences are men who are scared that they will be unjustly accused of harassment and thus view the hiring of women as an unknown risk.

It is time for business leaders to prioritize decisive actions to create a more inclusive culture so all employees—women and men—feel safe and supported at work, according to Yoder. A recent study by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company suggested that managers need to be supportive of all employees’ development and advancement, inclusive and unbiased in hiring and promotion, and advocates for work-life flexibility for all employees. They also advise managers to ensure inclusive and unbiased hiring and promotion and model respectful, inclusive behavior.

In addition to these recommendations, Yoder suggested that a talent management approach to culture will lead to progress on gender equity and inclusion. Yoder noted that another recent speaker at the Mount, Dee Ann Turner, the former talent architect at Chick-fil-A, has written and spoken extensively about the remarkable culture and increased productivity that results from organizations that put their employees first.

Yoder defined talent management as “recognizing your people for who they are.” This involves connecting with employees individually to learn about their goals and what they care about in a one-on-one supportive approach to management and coaching, she explained.

“Recognizing people as our authentic selves is the first step in the way forward,” concluded Yoder, who noted that any employee can practice this approach but that it has the greatest impact when leaders participate in talent management.

The 20/20 lecture series is one of several events scheduled throughout the year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mount's Frederick campus, which has offered adult students and community college students in and around Frederick the opportunity to improve their lives through professional and continuing education.