In October of 2017,
Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of The Weinstein Company, was fired for having
over a dozen allegations. women within the company that he had engaged in
sexual harassment and unwanted physical conduct. Over the past three decades,
several women have reported Mr. Weinstein for luring them into his hotel suite.
Once inside Mr. Weinstein would ask these women favors such as if he could give
them a massage or they could watch him shower. Weinstein would offer these
women a boost in their career if they accepted these sexual favors. Nearly all
of these reports revealed that Weinstein used the same strategy for each woman.
Dozens of Weinstein’s current and former employees said they knew of
inappropriate conduct while they worked for him, but only a handful said they
ever confronted him. A few days after the New York Times uncovered these
allegations, Weinstein made a statement where he said, “I appreciate the way
I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I
sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a
long way to go.” He then added he was planning to take a leave of absence to,
“deal with this issue head on” ( “Harvey Weinstein”2017) and would be working
with a therapist in the meantime. In situations like this, not only was the
reputation of Weinstein and his company destroyed, the lives of the women
involved were impacted as well.

            There were many ethical issues present within the
Weinstein company, both on a personal level and an organizational level as
well. These issues encompassed not just Harvey Weinstein himself but the
company’s board and employees as well. The biggest ethical issue in this case
is quid pro quo sexual harassment. In the past few months over 50 women have
come forward accusing Weinstein of sexually harassing and assaulting them over
a 30-year span. After an actress broke her silence on a 1997 assault, other victims
began to come forward with similar stories. All citing Weinstein either forced
them to commit unwanted sexual acts or he performed them himself in exchange
for boosting their career or offering them parts in his productions. Female
employees for the Weinstein Company have stated that they felt like they worked
in a hostile work environment. They felt that many of their meetings were set
up in suggestively private hotel rooms and work topics were becoming suggestive
in nature. The fact that Weinstein’s assaults spanned over 3 decades and the
number of victims that he had showed he had no remorse or didn’t see any
ethical issues with using his status and money to get away with the assaults.
Victim Lauren O’Connor stated “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living
and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is
his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” ( “Harvey
Weinstein Paid”2017). This statement brings in another pressing yet major issue
in this case: bribery. Eight victims have confirmed receiving payments in
exchange for their silence. Apparently other victims that had hinted about
coming forward after the initial accusation, in recent months have been
allegedly contacted by Weinstein Company being offered large sums of money in
exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. Not only did the victims who
had allegedly been approached with this unethical tactic refuse, but several of
the women who had taken the bribe in the past who didn’t sign a non-disclosure
agreement came forward with proof of payment for the company. This case brings
into question, where does corporate social responsibility come into play in a
situation like this? Considering the number of victims that were affected and
the amount of time that it took for anyone to come forward, the question could
be asked was it not the board’s ethical responsibility to come forward once
they were aware of the assaults? Not only were the board members aware of the
assaults, it was revealed that they were aware of at least three of the payoffs
towards the victims and made no action to penalize or fire Weinstein until
after the string of accusations, resulting in his firing. Did the Weinstein Company
board have no ethical responsibility to inform the public about Weinstein’s
actions because it didn’t pertain directly to any individual member besides
Harvey himself? Perhaps if they had reported Harvey at the very beginning,
thirty years ago after having concrete knowledge of the first payoff, dozens of
other women may not have been victimized. Removing a harasser from the
workplace would have indeed been better for female clients and employees alike.

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            Looking into this case and many others like it that
happen in bigger companies there are many questions left unanswered, questions
that if answered could have prevented these incidents and many others from
happening. The topic of due process comes to mind with the handling of the
victim’s complaints. The question is, did the women’s complaints receive due
process in being handled by the company? It was revealed that several women did
speak out, but their claims were either ignored, swept under the rug, or they
were given money. After attempting to speak out several women’s careers faded,
why was there no unbiased third party contacted to dispute these allegations? A
truly unbiased third party could have made all of the difference in stopping
Weinstein a long time ago and actually having him charged for his actions, not
to mention possibly saving the careers of several victims. Other issues to be
considered are not only the assaults with Weinstein, but how many other people
are victims of higher management that have not spoken out due to being assaulted
due to bribery and intimidation. Many predators in higher management are aware
of the power imbalance and use that to their advantage when intimidating
victims into silence. The power imbalance in many businesses are so great,
victims almost feel a sense of helplessness in going against their attacker in
the first place. Implementing more balance between management employees and
victims alike, could make the difference in someone coming forward.

            Something else to be examined is the startling imbalance
of male to female ratio in higher management statistics. Predators can be both
male or female but “91% of the time victims are female as opposed to the 9% of
the time males are assaulted” ( “Statistics About Sexual Violence”2017). It’s
been known that most female assault victims are more likely to confide in other
women rather than men. Perhaps if more women were put in higher positions in
their company, female victims would be more likely to speak up. Given these
statistics the question of why aren’t more women placed into higher management
positions comes to light. As of 2015, only “14.2% of women in the industry hold
top executive positions” ( “Corporate America has few female CEOs”2017), given
these numbers when women make up half of the workforce in the US is alarming.
Another alarming fact is that several board members, knowing of Weinstein’s
assaults continuously allowed him to be around other women in private settings.
Even if they were adamant about letting him keep his position, afraid of being
fired or shunned, they did not put into place tighter protocol. Doing so would
have given not just Weinstein, but anyone less of an opportunity to assault
someone (not allowing private meetings in nonprofessional settings, not
following up or looking into sudden departures from employees, etc.). Looking
into issues such as these in the future could very well be the difference in
someone being or not being assaulted, or even allowing victims to speak out
against their attacker.

            To further analyze this case, first we must identify the
stake holders in the situation. Stake holders in this case, are the people
invested in Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company. We must also see that there
are two different types of stakeholders, primary and secondary stakeholders.
Primary stakeholders for this case are the board members, staff, volunteers,
employees or any investor. Weinstein’s primary stakeholders were directly
affected by these allegations, one-third of the company’s directors resigned.
Thus leaving them with four remaining board members, one of which is Harvey
Weinstein’s brother Bob Weinstein. Companies like WPP which is a holding group
that has been invested with Harvey’s Company since 2005 have also been
affected. Meaning, “the WPP holding group relationship with the Weinstein
Company is up in the air”(Coffe). Secondary stakeholders with the company in
this case, are the people who are impacted by the company such as clients, community
partners, and others. Secondary stakeholders with the company were affected in
this situation as well. Secondary stakeholders showed their strengths in
comparison to Harvey Weinstein when The New York Times posted an article giving
light to accusers thus bringing down Harvey Weinstein in the process. The
capital for the stakeholders in this case are interests or shares that they
have in the Weinstein company. The threat for the Weinstein Company now, is
that they could lose more business and would never be able to recover from
these accusations with their primary and secondary stakeholders. Opportunities
for the stakeholders in this case are limited due to these accusations damaging
the company image going forward. Any action that would change their image in a
positive way should be taken advantage of. Thus, helping to rebuild a
productive working relationship with their stakeholders in the future. One
challenge that the stakeholders pose would be to challenge the Weinstein
Company to clean up their image after the accusations. Hearing of the
accusations, people and other businesses are more likely to separate themselves
from the business. Separation of individuals, organizations and politicians
with Weinstein over the course of his career have already started to take
place.

            As a company there are many economic, legal and ethical
responsibilities that are typically observed, but are not always in this
situation. Based on the accusations it is clear that legal responsibilities
were not applied, the accusers and reporters were treated illegally. If these
accusations are true they should have been taken directly to the
authorities.  Harvey’s brother Bob
Weinstein allegedly paid off two of the 
accusers throughout his career. By doing so, Bob Weinstein participated
in an act known as bribery, being illegal and unethical. Based on the
accusation, Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein company also showed no ethical
responsibilities. The accusers should have been able to have a work environment
that was free of sexual harassment. The Weinstein Company should have known
that discriminating against an employee based on sex or gender in the workforce
is unethical and illegal. If by chance other employees or members associated
with the company had knowledge of the assaults, they also should have taken
responsibility and reported these accusations. Weinstein company has not lived
up to their responsibilities financially, failing to meet their economic
responsibilities. Insiders estimate that the Weinstein Company not only lost a
key stakeholder in Thomas Barrack’s and his private equity firm Colony Capital,
but has a debt load of roughly $520 million as well. Thomas Barrack stated,
“No one is interested in salvaging a company which would benefit
Harvey,” (Faughnder). This statement shows that the Weinstein Company
could be in more trouble financially in the future. The legal, ethical, and
economic responsibilities do not have tension. There is no tension because this
case is based on sexual harassment accusations. If the Weinstein company
performed their ethical and legal responsibilities it would not stop them from
being economically responsible.

            Now we are going to relate Weinstein company sexual
harassment with one of the major approaches to business Ethics. The first approach
is the Conventional approach, based on ordinary common sense and wether
something is ethical. As a society sexual assault is considered unethical
behavior, therefore it can be assumed that Mr. Weinstein did not follow the
conventional approach. This assumption can be made due to his act of sexually
assaulting women since the beginning of his career; meaning that he does not
have or care about using common sense and a widely held sense of what ethics
even mean. After the women who were victimized came to speak out about the
truth of how they were all sexually assaulted, the company had to decide what
to do next. The company noticed these accusations of unethical behavior done by
Mr. Weinstein would negatively affect their company’s image, tarnishing the
company’s reputation, and their practices would be deemed unethical.  For these reasons, the company that Weinstein
built acted against him, deciding to fire him. The Kohlberg levels of Moral
Development is another principle that does not apply. This is due to the fact
since he abused his power to sexually assault someone sporadically over three
decades, paying them off and doing repeatedly. It also doesn’t apply to the
Weinstein case due to the fact that Mr. Weinstein does not seem to care about
the focus of developing morally towards himself, others and, or humankind.
After the Weinstein Company fired Mr. Weinstein, they decided to change their
ethical climate by adding a new code of conduct involving sexual harassments.
Lance Maerov, which is the board member in charge of handling contract
negotiations, said that “They would face costly fines if the company ever had
to pay a settlement for their misconduct.” ( “What, Exactly, Did the Weinstein
Company”2017). Which makes it look like they are at least working to avoid
something like this from ever happening again. Now that those knowledgable of
Weinstein’s sexual assaults have resigned ,not wanting to go down with Mr.
Weinstein or from guilt, the Weinstein company is in a much better position.
The Company also fired Mr. Weinstein based on his unethical behavior and sexual
accusations, “In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey
Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein
Company … have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his
employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective
immediately,” ( “Movie producer Harvey Weinstein”2017). Also, Weinstein
company has also changed their code of conduct and added a new law against
sexual harassment/ misconduct. The company seems to be on the right track to
clean the companies name and its future.

            When dealing with sexual assault or sexual harassment
cases such as this one, it is important to consider several different
alternatives, so a company can avoid claims. 
Having a sectionalized human resources department within the company can
insure that a specific problem is being dealt with in the hands of HR, rather
than being swept under the rug by someone higher up in the company whose only
mindset is the company’s reputation. When sexual assault cases occur, the
victim can file a claim that is brought to the attention of HR immediately,
allowing them an upper hand in deciding which step they want to take next.
Advantages to a sectionalized human resources department are that claims are
more easily accessible as well as documented and filed away and the atmosphere
at work can feel safer when issues are actually recognized and dealt with.
Disadvantages of a sectionalized human resources department are the costs of
hiring someone for each specific department. The next alternative for a
situation such as this one that could have prevented the sexual harassment
claims is holding meetings or interviews in a public setting such as a
conference room, or restaurant, rather than a hotel room or behind closed
doors. Accusations of Mr. Weinstein’s sexual harassment would have been far
more difficult to support if he were in the office and not alone with each of
the women. Limiting the power of authority figures is something many companies
who experience sexual harassment issues need to take into consideration. When
someone like Mr. Weinstein who was the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company is
being accused of sexual harassment, it is more easily overlooked because he
initially has all the power and money so he can make it happen. In situations
such as this, there needs to be a third party who is responsible for handling
the issue, so it is not disregarded.

            One short term recommendation for the Weinstein company
would be for them to improve on their crisis communications tactics. Not every
scandal can be hidden from the public eye, so having a better hold on how to
deal with these types of issues could make or break a company’s future and
their reputation. There were a few steps of the crisis communication process
that they missed or were not handled well. After news of the Weinstein assaults
broke, instead of immediately doing damage control with the public, many of the
board members simply resigned, making the company look guiltier than before.
Not only that but the company’s top spokeswoman decided to step down after the
allegations, leaving the company without someone to represent them during the
crucial beginning stages of the crisis. With a company of that much wealth and
power, it would have been in their best interest for them to have had an
experienced backup spokesperson to train to represent the company during this
crucial time.

Since the incident has
been made public the company has not done anything outstanding to identify the
key messages that they are trying to convey in order to apologize for the
scandal. Besides mentioning they will be trying to change the name of the
studio and they will attempt to put more women on the board, nothing has been
done to make the company seem genuinely apologetic. They should definitely make
a public statement to solidify their stance on being against sexual harassment
and be prepared for the consequences that come along with the actions of their
board and Weinstein.

            A short-term recommendation for this case would be to
implement the Fair Labor Association and Social Accountability specifically
dealing with human rights groups. If the Weinstein Company focused more on
health and safety, discrimination, and discipline within their organization,
many incidents such as sexual harassment may be more easily dealt with and
avoided. It is important that each individual in the company feels that he or
she is safe and that they have the right to confront any issues. The Weinstein
Company should enforce human rights by expressing that each individual should
be receiving and practicing respect for one another and the company. Their
biggest issue was not following through with the social accountability laws
which state that discrimination, in this case sexual harassment, and discipline
such as no verbal or physical abuse is highly prohibited. To avoid situations
such as sexual harassment, The Weinstein Company should make aware to their
employees that these laws are here for a reason, and they need to abide by them
or legal actions will take place immediately. This is something that should
have been emphasized in the beginning, but it is now their job to preach and
practice it. This can be done by gathering every employee of the Weinstein
Company to a mandatory meeting where they are made aware of these policies and
are required to sign an agreement that if not practiced they will be
immediately removed from the company to avoid any other claims that have been
thrown their way.          

            A long-term recommendation in this case would be to have
the Weinstein company launch a campaign towards women who have been sexually
assaulted in the film industry. According to hrmonline.com.au, this is a way
bigger problem and apparently it happens so often that sometimes people in the
film industry joke about it. “A joke was made about it at the 2013 Oscar
nominations, and the audience laughed heartily, proving they understood the
premise. If his behaviors were in any way a real secret, the punchline would
have fallen on confused ears.” (“This is why HR “2017) Since this is such a
common problem in the industry, Weinstein’s company would benefit greatly from
this campaign, especially since their old founder was sexually assaulting
women. This will help Weinstein’s company reputation by showing how terribly
sorry they are that their own founder was part of this. Even though Mr.
Weinstein clearly had no ethics or principles, it does not mean that the
company does not have any or follow them; also, how the Weinstein company
recognizes that this is a way bigger problem and will try its best to work as
hard as they can so something like does not happen again in the company and in
any other company. The Campaign can basically be a way for women who have been
sexually assaulted to finally be able to come out and shine light on this
matter, allowing justice to be served for those being assulted. This campaign
will surely be a way for the Weinstein company to work their way up, help clean
their image and hopefully save its company’s future.

 

            A long-term recommendation for the Weinstein case is for
them to clean their image by partnering with a trauma center who will take in
sexually harassed victims. Having a trauma center would help victims who were
harassed in the Weinstein company and victims in other situations also.  Partnering with a trauma center could affect
them immediately, but it would also be a part of a long-term solution for the
Weinstein company to clean their image. This would coexist with the new
campaign to help women speak up again sexual harassment perfectly. It would
also help them improve their image with their stakeholder by showing that they
are committed and serious about changing their image for the better. This could
lead to them being ethically responsible and it could also help them bring in
revenue since its reported that they are over 500 million dollars in debt, with
them bringing in more revenue it could lead them back to being financially
responsible as well.

In
order to make amends to the public, the Weinstein brothers and the remaining
board members has announced the attempts to change the name of the company, by putting
more women in charge of the board, while bringing in new codes of conduct
involving sexual harassment. Several things should be considered before
implementing these changes in to the company. When changing the name of the
company, you should examine the market they are trying to appeal to, as well as
having a name that completely distinguishes them from the past scandals that
have plagued the company. Something that needs to be considered when putting
more women on the board is making sure the women are qualified and that they
are making this change out of genuine sincerity, not just to please the public.
If the changes are made hastily without thought, then it will contribute to an even
more negative outlook on the company This consideration also falls into place
with the new codes of conduct that are being added, they should be carefully
considered before implementation in order to seem genuine. These concepts tie
into the public affairs management with their consumers as well as people that
are likely to partner with them in the future.

            Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual
harassment for his actions over the past three decades. These accusations recently
lead to his firing, but they also hurt the Weinstein Company. The Weinstein Company
were not able to fulfill its economical, ethical, and legal responsibilities. Harvey
Weinstein and the Weinstein Company should look to avoid these accusations to
have a successful future.