This “Whistleblower Spotlight” features the many women who came forward to face down years of sexual harassment—and worse—from producer Harvey Weinstein, helping to spark a long overdue national conversation.
Weinstein’s alleged abuses spanned decades, with reports of misconduct from as far back as 1980. The few women brave enough to report his behavior were silenced either by Weinstein’s influence in the industry and tight control over his company or through non-disclosure agreements. Either way, Weinstein was left free to continue victimizing women and abusing his power.
That all changed this fall when dozens of women worked with the New York Times and the New Yorker to tell their stories. They told of Weinstein’s abuse of power, wielding his position of authority within the movie industry to coerce people into unwanted sexual contact, and of his ruthless retribution against those who resisted him. Indeed, subsequent reporting has indicated that Weinstein hired private security contractors to try to intimidate the women (and the reporters developing the story) out of blowing the whistle on him.
Fortunately, they did not bow to this pressure. So far, over 90 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape. As a result of the allegations, Weinstein was fired from his own company and kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also being criminally investigated.
Perhaps more importantly, their whistleblowing had an even broader effect. The high-profile whistleblowing by these courageous women was a catalyst that helped set off a wave of reports about numerous other prominent men engaging in sexual harassment. Like Weinstein, these men have lost their jobs, their companies, or paid other long overdue consequences. At the same time, the #MeToo hashtag that originated shortly thereafter has become a powerful tool for women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. This conversation has illuminated the continued wide-spread and invidious mistreatment of women in the workplace and our society overall, bringing cries for change.
For their courageous stand against a powerful predator, we nominate these women for Whistleblowers of the Year.
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