What #MeToo Means for Business

The Me Too Movement was created by Tarana Burke in 2006, to draw attention to the prevalence of sexual abuse and aggression in our society. It didn’t morph into the hashtag we’ve come to know until a number of actresses came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of inappropriate sexual advances and career-dependent ultimatums.

Burke, a social activist and creator of Just Be, Inc. (a non-profit dedicated to aiding victims of sexual assault and abuse), named her movement Me Too because it’s hard to come up with the words to respond to the atrocities of sexual abuse. She found herself in a number of those situations, when the only words that made sense were “me too.”

The hashtag phrase gained national attention when actress Alyssa Milano used it in 2017, and within 24 hours of her post, it made 12 million more appearances over various social media channels. Women from all walks of life declared #metoo, meaning they, too, had endured the damage caused by sexual harassment. All of a sudden, women who had felt so alone in their struggles experienced a sense of solidarity with fellow victims; and the simple act of saying #metoo brought comfort on some level.

So what does the Me Too Movement mean for business?

And in particular, women-run businesses?

Well, a number of things come to mind:

  • Motivated women with aspirations to own small and micro businesses may no longer have to wonder how they’ll navigate the gender-specific obstacle course that has been laid out before them. Certainly, #metoo isn’t going to do away with all forms of gender bias and sexual harassment. It has, however, given women a feeling of empowerment and solidarity with one another, knowing that they no longer have to feel pressured to be silent. #metoo isn’t just a movement; it’s proof that people are choosing to speak up and take action.
  • Business ownership and management is now under more scrutiny. When claims of sexual aggression or harassment are raised, it’s more important than ever that issues be addressed. Increased numbers of empowered women in business—whether they’re leading or rising—is good for all of us.
  • Women make more purchasing decisions than men (43% women, 26% men, 31% joint, according to Pew Research), and when they know that your company is fostering a #metoo culture, many of them will want to support your brand. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have a target market made up of man-haters; instead, you will have an audience filled with people who care about the dignity of human beings, as well as justice for victims. If those values align with your corporate values, then your tribe will be filled with ideal clients.

Is everyone thrilled with the rise of the Me Too movement? Certainly not.

But here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Are they the kind of people you want your brand to be associated with? Are they the types of people you should be hiring? And are they the types of customers you want to serve?

These are all questions that are very personal…and very business. And at this point in history, they’re also essential to determining how we will move forward as businesses, as industries, as markets and as humans running all of the above.

Do you feel compelled to continue this conversation? Would you like to talk to other business owners about how they have handled the new awareness that comes along with #metoo? Then I invite you to learn more about the Secret Women’s Business Academy, where the resources are invaluable, the support is real and your tribe is waiting to welcome you.