Why didn't HR stop Harvey Weinstein’s harassment?

by HRD11 Oct 2017
After shocking allegations of harassment were made public, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein has been sacked by his own movie company - but why wasn’t his misbehaviour stopped by HR?

The board of The Weinstein Company fired its famous namesake after The New York Times revealed years of harassment claims, and resulting settlements, involving female former employees and acquaintances.

It was reported the New York Times had dug through old HR records and contacted many former employees for their accounts.

Staff spoke of how they were young at the time and didn’t know how serious his alleged misconduct was, or how to escalate it.

“The human resources operation was considered weak in New York and worse in London, so some employees banded together in solidarity,” The New York Times wrote.

However, it appears the board of directors, including Weinstein’s producer brother Bob - now the company’s chairman - had known about his misbehaviour for at least two years, after receiving an explosive memo from former employee Laura O’Connor, which detailed numerous allegations.

At least one board member wanted an independent lawyer to review her accusations; however, days later, Weinstein reached a settlement with O’Connor.

“Because this matter has been resolved and no further action is required, I withdraw my complaint,” O’Connor wrote to the head of human resources at the Weinstein Co.

The revelations have sparked outrage from across Hollywood, with Weinstein’s celebrity friends turning against him.

COMMENTS

  • by 11/10/2017 11:31:37 AM

    Maybe it's because fear is our most powerful emotion, and enough money can provide a short-term 'fix', in other words just enough time for the emotions to subside on all sides. Putting aside emotion, rather than dealing with it, is unhealthy, we know that. Is our HR profession lacking in its focus on taking responsibility for tackling this, in favour of dealing out emotion suppression tactics instead?.

  • by Steven Kalavity 11/10/2017 12:03:07 PM

    HR serves upper management - always. Until there is 3rd party oversight replacing internal "governance" we will see workplace/worker harassment, bullying, and other forms of corruption prosper. Simply, the hieraxhiarcal management system combined with the myth of internal governance and compliance almost predicts abuse of power and neglect of agency responsibility. Why else do whistle blowers generally "lose" - their jobs, their income, their voice? Look at Wells Fargo. HR allows "performance" to be a justifiable reason for termination without understanding what performance is. Performance IS management and not the employee on most occasions. Yet, in spite of Deming's proof of this in his famous Red Bead Experiment the hierarchical paradigm denies it. We create a corporate-worker dynamic which almost guarantees abuse and corruption.

  • by Steve Gilbert 12/10/2017 9:51:25 PM

    I fully support Steven Kalavity's comment. I remember one occasion when my (at the time) CEO nearly spit fire at me when I spoke up for my staff and their performance. She said "I won't have anyone getting in the way with respect to staff". What hope for any manager, or HR member? I was very happy to leave for another job, but was sorry for the staff left behind to endure the bullying. Where was HR in this? Nowhere to be found. Stories like this are very common. Staff need a truly independent advocate, with access to the board and the right to appeal to external authorities. The power imbalance is so obvious that few will challenge the status quo.

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