RALIANCE Policy Director Terri Poore believes that we’re at a pivotal moment in the fight for women’s rights – a time of both exciting progress as well as efforts to roll back women’s rights. Nothing defines that friction more than the current status of the Supreme Court.
“It’s thrilling to see Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court,” Poore said, “yet at the same time there’s a very real chance the court will rule in favor of state laws that reject a woman’s right to choose in the coming months.”
Poore sat down for an interview this week to discuss the dynamic landscape for women’s rights – including the latest policy debates you should know about and how the private sector can advance progress for women.
RALIANCE: President Biden recently signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. What does this mean for individuals and private sector leaders?
Poore: The Act is an important step for survivors. Forced arbitration clauses were often hidden in the fine print of employee onboarding paperwork, meaning survivors only realized they couldn’t go to court after something terrible happened. Ending forced arbitration gives survivors a choice and allows those previously affected by the requirement to move forward with a case. This is a great opportunity for corporations to embrace culture change around the issue, and even revisit their own forced arbitration policies in cases beyond sexual violence and harassment.
RALIANCE: After several months of negotiation in Congress, President Biden has signed legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). What will its impact be to the workplace and what implications does it have for corporate leaders?
Poore: VAWA is an important and historic pillar of the nation’s response to gender-based violence. This bipartisan bill proves that responding to and preventing sexual violence is important to all, no matter their political affiliation. We know that leadership—whether in the public or private sector—is an essential component of setting a tone that gender-based violence is not tolerable. This version of VAWA addresses sexual harassment head on and better equips the Workplace Resource Center and Rape Prevention and Education Program for community prevention and support. Corporations and businesses can look for ways to support these community programs, as they can directly impact the overall health and well-being of their workforces.
RALIANCE: The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) recently failed to pass the Senate. Can you explain the implications of this?
Poore: It’s a shame that WHPA failed to pass the Senate, as it was meant to protect women from legislation preventing their access to reproductive health resources. There are many pieces of state legislation that are taking apart the fabric of a reproductive health options for people, and for those of us working in sexual violence, we know how important it is for survivors to have the right to bodily autonomy and access to the full range of reproductive health options. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that there are legislators who cared enough about this issue to bring this legislation to a vote.
RALIANCE: How can the private sector support women’s rights and sexual violence prevention in the current policy landscape?
Poore: Policymakers can certainly set the tone for how sexual violence is perceived, but legislation can only go so far. The private sector’s engagement in culture change is essential to setting workplace behavior expectations. For example, corporate leaders could support and partner with state governments as they look to fund prevention education in their communities. At the end of the day, we really need corporate leaders to tackle these issues themselves, in partnership with consultants like RALIANCE.
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.