Celebrities, media heavyweights and red carpet galas may have their place in raising awareness about sexual misconduct. But our real heroes are the unsung women who stand up against sexual assault, harassment and retaliation in the everyday workplace and against bosses the media would have no interest in covering. They do it without the protection of cameras and high-profile positions.
We seldom learn their names. They live their lives away from the spotlight and outside the glare of public scrutiny. They often pay for their decisions to speak out with their careers, their self-esteem and their health. I hear from these women every day. I am one of them.
We need to listen to these women and learn from what they are saying. Regardless of their backgrounds, education or line of work, these survivors speak with one voice: It’s time to get serious about making the everyday workplace safer and help the forgotten victims of sexual misconduct to rebuild their lives. That’s the driving force behind The Zero Now Campaign™.
—Kathleen Finlay, Founder
We’re not celebrities, astronauts or women who make the headlines. We are everyday survivors of the everyday workplace — service sector and retail workers, professionals, government employees, students. Some of our horror stories are recent. Others occurred so long ago they are called historical. But the nightmares they produce are very current.
We don’t frequent red carpet galas. We don’t own designer black dresses. We don’t have a big media spotlight to help us find justice. But what too many of us do have are lives and careers that have been shattered because we spoke out and insisted on being treated fairly and with respect. That’s why we admire most the unsung but truly heroic women who are standing up against abuse and putting their health and their careers at risk every day. There is no CBC or CNN to shower praise on them —only the appreciation of history and knowing that they are making the lives of generations to come better.
The misconduct of celebrity rogues and the impact on their victims is only the tip of the iceberg. What happens to the rest of us, as we collide with sexual miscreants in the workplace each and every day, IS the iceberg. And we don’t have CNN to back us up, nor can we rely on crusading reporters and headlines to hold our bosses to account for their wrongdoing. As too many of us have discovered, if our offenders are not high-profile figures, neither the media nor even major women’s groups are interested.
Not surprisingly, public outrage has been slow to pick up the cause of the women who are typically voiceless and faceless, to show empathy for our career-shattering experiences or to demand fundamental workplace changes to protect us. Even with the arrival of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there have been few ideas that will bring about the systemic change that is necessary to make the workplace safer. Fewer still have focused on the needs of the women who have been forced to abandon careers, or prevented from pursuing them, because we spoke out and now face financial and personal desolation. What is to be done for our broken lives and wrecked careers?