This blog is the third installment of RALIANCE’s “Pursuing Progress” series, focused on stakeholder groups pushing for companies to take steps toward progress and culture change. Up this week: policymakers.
Policymakers – including President Biden, regulators, and legislators – have a long list of critical issues to address on any given day, but there are signs that they are increasingly treating sexual misconduct and discrimination as priorities. Here are the latest developments in the policy space that corporate leaders need to know:
• A new law will end forced arbitration. After a long-running process sparked by the #MeToo movement, Congress passed a bipartisan bill that will prevent private companies from using forced arbitration – a mediation process between survivors and perpetrators conducted outside the legal system – to manage sexual misconduct claims. Biden’s expected to sign the bill, in a sign that ending sexual harassment can successfully earn support from both sides of the political aisle.
• Congress aims to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. A bipartisan group of Senators recently announced that they had reached an agreement to reauthorize the VAWA following its lapse in 2018, providing resources for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse. The original version of VAWA was signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton – its persistent reauthorizations in 2000, 2005, and 2013 are a sign that protecting women from violence remains a prominent issue among policymakers.
• Regulators are addressing workplace diversity. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is responsible for regulating publicly traded companies, has been vocal on issues of workplace diversity under the Biden administration. Last August, the SEC published a review of racial and ethnic disparities among their own employees, and the SEC has signaled openness to requiring companies to publicly disclose more workforce diversity data. This aligns with shareholders’ persistent efforts to hold companies accountable to higher workforce diversity standards.
Especially under the current administration, which has prioritized equity, policymakers will remain highly attentive to issues such as sexual misconduct and discrimination. Proactively investing time, resources, and attention to improving your workplace culture is the best way to stay ahead of the next policy development.
RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.