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← Stop training. Start talking | Leondra Hanson | TEDxMinneapolis

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Showing Revision 19 created 09/22/2019 by Peter van de Ven.

  1. When #MeToo went viral last year,
  2. it pulled back the curtain
    to reveal a problem
  3. that had really been hiding
    in plain sight.
  4. We weren't shocked or surprised
    to learn that information -
  5. these were not new statistics.
  6. What it really exposed was
    our lack of action,
  7. our inadequacy at responding.
  8. #MeToo collected the stories,
    it gave them faces and names,
  9. and it brought them forward
    and it put them in front of us
  10. and it begged a new question.
  11. It said, Are we going to do
    something about this?
  12. Which is why, I think,
    as a lawyer, educator and trainer,
  13. the question I've been asked the most
    often in the last several months is,
  14. "So what do we do now?"
  15. What do we do now?
  16. Now, in all of my heads, I should be able
    to rattle off a whole list of ideas,
  17. but the first time somebody
    posed that question to me,
  18. I didn't give any great policy insights.
  19. The first time somebody asked
    the question, I gave my gut reaction,
  20. the first thing that popped
    into my head, and I said,
  21. "I think we need
    to keep talking about it."
  22. And I kind of looked back
    on that answer, and I thought,
  23. "Isn't that a little overly simplistic?"
  24. Over the last several months, though,
    I've had a lot of conversations
  25. in a variety of contexts,
    formal and informal,
  26. with all kinds of people,
  27. and I'm sensing that people
    are really uncomfortable.
  28. I keep getting the same comments,
    hearing the same kinds of questions.
  29. People are saying things like,
    What about hugs? Are hugs okay?
  30. Should I open my office door?
    Is it bad to have closed-door meetings?
  31. I get nervous when I give
    a coworker a compliment.
  32. And everybody wants to talk
    about the spectrum.
  33. Because it's a spectrum, right?
  34. Some conduct is worse than others.
  35. It has led me to the conclusion
  36. that #MeToo has presented us
    an opportunity for a reckoning,
  37. but we seem really anxious
    to get to some kind of reconciliation.
  38. Is there some new set of rules
    we can apply here so we can just move on?
  39. I think we can get
    from reckoning to reconciliation,
  40. but not until we change this conversation.
  41. Luckily, as any good TED speaker should,
  42. I have come equipped with five steps
    to changing the conversation.
  43. (Laughter)
  44. So, step one, we are going
    to stop training and start talking.
  45. Yes, I came to advocate that we stop
    doing sexual harassment training.
  46. And yes, I still feel like the lawyers
    and the HR people in the room

  47. are a little nervous about that.
  48. In order to get us all on the same page,
  49. I decided that we should do just a quick
    sexual harassment training in 30 seconds.
  50. In order to do that, I dusted off
    an old PowerPoint presentation
  51. that I gave probably 15 years ago
    about this topic.
  52. And here we go.
  53. Sexual harassment training in 30 seconds.
  54. There are two types.
  55. It takes a lot of words
    to explain those two types,
  56. especially the second type.
  57. Even the courts
    aren't entirely sure what it is -
  58. they just know that bullying,
    that's not enough.
  59. But don't worry,
    this is just about what's illegal.
  60. Your employer can set a much higher bar -
  61. cue an inappropriate,
    awkwardly acted video
  62. about a weird back rub in the copy room,
  63. (Laughter)
  64. a reminder that you should call HR
    if you have any questions.
  65. Don't forget supervisors
    can be individually liable -
  66. don't be creepy and seen.
  67. (Applause)(Screaming)
  68. Sexual harassment training
    hasn't changed a lot
  69. in the last several decades.
  70. Now you can do it all online
    without ever seeing another person.
  71. (Laughter)
  72. There have been some strives to change it,
  73. but the problem
    with sexual harassment training

  74. is that it is rooted in risk prevention.
  75. Sexual harassment training exists
    because the courts said,
  76. "Hey employers, if you do this thing,
    you can avoid liability if it happens."
  77. Thus, sexual harassment training
    was born of litigation,
  78. and it has been raised by lawyers.
  79. Now hopefully, for the sake
    of my three children,
  80. being raised by lawers
    is not the worst possible unbringing.
  81. (Laughter)
  82. Nevertheless, it is time
    for sexual harassment training
  83. to move on out of the house of compliance
  84. because conversation is risky.
  85. We will not get from reckoning
    to reconciliation
  86. unless we are willing
    to cross a path of risk.
  87. So, step two, we need to take some risks.
  88. Conversation is risky.
  89. One of the risks we need to take
  90. is we need to be willing
    to admit our past mistakes.
  91. We haven't always engaged
    exactly right in this conversation,
  92. and we've got to be willing to own that.
  93. In organizations,
    if leaders can step up and say,
  94. "You know, I used
    to think about this this way,
  95. but now I think about it differently."
  96. That opens the door
    for other people to do the same.
  97. But talking about things
    we've gotten wrong is scary,
  98. so I'll go first.
  99. This is me.
  100. I am the curly-haired one in the back.
  101. The much younger, much cuter,
    much blonder girl is my little sister,
  102. and this is our horse -
    his name is Jim.
  103. I loved my Montana upbringing,
    and I loved that girl -
  104. she was strong and independent -
  105. but there were a lot of things
    that she did not know.
  106. One of them
  107. is that if you would've asked me then
    or for years afterwards,
  108. if I was a feminist,
  109. I would've probably told you "No," right?
  110. But then I listened and I lived
    and I learned, and my perspective shifted.
  111. I recognized that there was room
    at the equality table for all of us,
  112. even those of us
    who could drive a stick shift
  113. and saddle a horse and slap a pig.
  114. (Laughter)
  115. We are all on a journey,
  116. and we have to be willing
    to own our mistakes.
  117. The flip side of that, of course,
  118. is that we have to be open
    to other people's journeys too,
  119. to letting them make mistakes.
  120. If every time in this conversation
  121. we think someone
    is getting something wrong,
  122. our reaction is to gather
    our swarm of little blue birdies
  123. and come peck them
    to death on the Internet,
  124. we're not going to invite people
    into the conversation;
  125. we're going to push them away.
  126. (Applause)
  127. Step three, we've made some time,
    we've decided to take some risks,
  128. What do we talk about instead?
  129. We need to be talking about power,
    permission, and interruption.
  130. When we think about
    the news stories that we've seen
  131. with examples of sexual harassment
    and sexual violence,
  132. the power is easy to spot.
  133. The people in the news
    are wealthy politicians.
  134. They're media moguls
    who have control and power,
  135. not only of their own contexts,
  136. but of the law and culture
    that the rest of the consume.
  137. But you don't have to be a media mogul
    or a wealthy politician to have power.
  138. Power can exist in a community -
  139. it can be simply based on having
    information somebody doesn't have,
  140. control over someone's pay;
  141. it can be speaking a language.
  142. We need to start identifying the power
    in our contexts and who holds it,
  143. and whether we hold some and of what kind.
  144. Because sexual violence thrives
  145. when bad intentions
    meet power, opportunity,
  146. and a low risk of accountability.
  147. We need to identify and talk about power.
  148. Instead, our conversations
    always seem to go to this place
  149. of romance gone wrong -
  150. it's an unhappy accident,
    a mistaken communication.
  151. I think there's something
    more sinister going on
  152. in almost all of the stories we hear.
  153. But even if sometimes
    the issue is miscommunication,
  154. then why aren't we talking
    about permission?
  155. We're not talking about permission
    in sex education with our kids,
  156. and we're not talking about it
    in training in our workplaces.
  157. And here in stoic Minnesota,
  158. I'm not sure we're talking about it
    with each other either.
  159. We need to talk about permission.
  160. When should we be asking for it?
  161. How do we ask for it?
  162. And how do we deny it?
  163. (Applause)
  164. We also need to talk about interruption -
  165. it does not take long to find a bystander
  166. who didn't know what to do or what to say
  167. or simply chose not to.
  168. Why is it so much easier
    when our colleague says,
  169. "You know, Bob makes me
    feel really uncomfortable,"
  170. that our go-to response
    is always "That's just Bob."
  171. Why is it so hard to say,
    "How so?" "Are you OK?"
  172. "Is there anything I can do?"
  173. We need to talk about power,
    permission, and interruption.
  174. And then we need people, step four,
    to show up for the conversation.
  175. I give a lot of talks
    about these kinds of things,
  176. and I often find myself staring out
    at a sea of women's faces.
  177. I did a little what we call "lawyer math"
  178. over the last couple
    of presentations I've given
  179. to just kind of see
    what the statistics were,
  180. and I counted up that less than 10%
  181. of the people coming to a talk with #MeToo
    or sexual harassment in the title
  182. were men.
  183. Yet at the same time,
    I kept getting this question,

  184. usually from women at the talks:
  185. "What about all the really
    good men in my office?
  186. I work with some really good men,
    and they want to do something.
  187. They feel awkward.
    How can I help them?"
  188. My answer is pretty simple:
  189. participate.
  190. Men, we need you to show up
    for this conversation.
  191. You know what? Scratch that.
  192. You need you to show up
    for this conversation.
  193. Three percent of men will experience
    a rape or attempted rape -
  194. that's just the ones who are reported.
  195. Many of us in this room
    may never experience sexual violence;
  196. most of us will never
    commit sexual violence.
  197. But it is going to impact all of us.
  198. It's impacting us all right now and every
    conversation we have in the workplace.
  199. So, my challenge, my hope,
    is that when men are talking
  200. about whether they should open the door
    of their offices to be safe,
  201. go ahead and open the door.
  202. But can you also open your eyes
    and hearts and minds
  203. to the stories that #MeToo is telling us
    and the reality of those stories?
  204. Step five: we have got
    to retire this spectrum.
  205. Because we're talking
    about this all the time,
  206. on one hand, here's the stuff
    that's not a big deal,
  207. you should probably get over it;
  208. down here is the stuff
    that's really horrifying -
  209. it's pretty awful.
  210. We're actually not going to talk
    about the horrifying stuff
  211. pretty much ever;
  212. we're going to really focus
    on this get-over-it side,
  213. especially at work and in our training.
  214. We may not even be
    on the get-over-it side,
  215. because when we're talking
    about hugs and compliments,
  216. I don't even think
    they're on the spectrum.
  217. I love hugs and compliments.
    They're great.
  218. The problem with hugs and compliments
    is only when they're misused,
  219. when they're used to demean
    instead of to lift up.
  220. But we spend so much time
    on that end of the spectrum
  221. that we don't have time
    to dig into what's really going on,
  222. and we don't want to believe
    in the horrifying end, anyway.
  223. We want to peel everything out of that
    and categorize it over here.
  224. So, here's the thing.
    It's not a spectrum.
  225. It's a system.
  226. And until we start getting comfortable
    with the idea that it might be messy
  227. to talk about its interconnectivity,
    about its intricacies,
  228. then we will not dismantle it,
  229. and we need to dismantle the system.
  230. In education, we have a concept
    we talk about sometimes,
  231. called "the compelling why."
  232. The idea is that if we know
    why we're doing something,
  233. we'll be better at it,
    we'll learn it better,
  234. we'll understand it more.
  235. We need to change
    why we're having this conversation.
  236. We can't be having it
    to avoid getting sued;
  237. we've got to have a better reason.
  238. And trying to come up with better reasons,
  239. we've come up with things like,
    "It's better for a bottom line.
  240. There's a business case for it -
  241. if we really make the workplace
    safer and better,
  242. we'll have a better workforce,
    we'll produce more work."
  243. And that's a better reason,
  244. but I still don't think it's "the" reason.
  245. I want to tell you my reason for talking
    about sexual assault and harassment -
  246. my compelling why.
  247. I have a #MeToo story to tell you.
  248. My #MeToo story doesn't belong to me.
  249. This is Suzie.
  250. I met Suzie when I fell in love
    with her big brother,
  251. and we became family
    when I married him.
  252. By the time I'd joined the Hanson family,
  253. Suzie had already been sexually assaulted.
  254. I never really talked to her
    about it very much;
  255. I didn't know a lot about what happened.
  256. What I did know will sound
    very familiar to you:
  257. she was sexually assaulted
    at work, at her part-time job,
  258. by someone with authority.
  259. There were people who could
    intervene and interrupt - who didn't.
  260. Mostly, everyone wanted her
    to get over it and move on.
  261. There was a lawsuit, and she couldn't
    really talk about it, anyway.
  262. So, we never really talked about it.
  263. I did notice that Suzie was trying
    really hard to do all of those things,
  264. to get over it and move on,
  265. but even in her happiest time,
  266. she would carry with her a cloud
    of shame and fear and anger.
  267. I would learn later
    that what was in that cloud
  268. were the symptoms
    of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  269. Suzie and I would have one conversation
    that I recall so clearly about it.
  270. I knew she was in therapy, finally,
  271. it was the summer of 2000,
    and I asked her, "How's it going?"
  272. And she said, "It's going pretty well."
    She said, "It's kind of hard, though."
  273. And I said, "Why?"
  274. And she said,
  275. "My therapist wants me to tell
    the whole story of what happened to me.
  276. I've never told the whole story."
  277. I got kind of scared and nervous.
  278. I wasn't sure I wanted
    to hear the whole story -
  279. we don't want to hear
    the horrifying things.
  280. And I said, "Why not?"
  281. And she said, "I'm just so scared."
  282. I would never hear Suzie's story.
  283. I would never talk to her about it.
  284. She would reveal more horrifying details
    to her therapist and to her parents,
  285. and then she would die by suicide.
  286. We would lose her
    to her post-traumatic stress disorder.
  287. We would never talk about it.
  288. Suzie's death was
    a defining moment in my life,
  289. not just for my own grief
  290. but also because it gave me
    the front-row seat
  291. for the devastation of some of the people
    I loved the most in the world.
  292. What I've learned as the years have past
    is that that one act of violence,
  293. it spread the consequences
    over so many people.
  294. This is not just about perpetrators
    and victims of sexual violence;
  295. it is about all of us.
  296. The impacts were huge.
  297. There were even consequences
    for my children,
  298. and they weren't even born yet.
  299. It's been 18 years,
  300. and our lives are full
    of laughter and life and fun,
  301. but I have heard her voice
    and seen her story
  302. in the voices of clients
    and students and #MeToo,
  303. and I've often wondered
    why the cycle never changes.
  304. It's been kind of depressing
    that I see the same thing,
  305. the same circle of shame
    and silence, again and again.
  306. And then, last year,
  307. I got kind of optimistic.
  308. It seems sort of strange to think
  309. that #MeToo might have made
    anyone optimistic,
  310. but it did.
  311. And I realized that the reason
    that was making me optimistic
  312. is because when the movement
    gathered these stories together
  313. and it set them out there in front of us
  314. and it said, "Are you going
    to do anything about this?"
  315. we said, "Yes!"
  316. We said, "Time's up!"
  317. We said, "Enough is enough."
  318. We started asking people like me,
    "What do we do now?"
  319. And the energy of people I talked to,
  320. even though they know
    they're not getting it right
  321. and even though they know it's messy,
  322. the energy of the people I talk to is
    "Let's do something about this;
  323. it is impacting all of us."
  324. So, my charge to you is,
    "Yeah, let's keep going."
  325. Let's change this conversation:
  326. Show up. Listen up. Step up.
  327. And do what my gut said
    that we should be doing all along:
  328. let's keep talking about it.
  329. Thank you.
  330. (Applause)