Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” is the story of the writing of his now-famous piece about Harvey Weinstein. Anyone involved in HR should read it. (Spoiler alert – HR doesn’t fare well in this telling.) The book chronicles the depth and extent of sexual harassment and assault in media companies. It details the aggressive lengths to which powerful men go to protect their behavior and their reputation.


It’s unsettling. To be clear, the book doesn’t generalize beyond its specific context. But, you can if you read it. The stories of complicity through silence, intimidation by leaders, stories that change under pressure, and the executive desire to look good are nauseating. Over and over, the goal of the game seems to be to keep the victims feeling ashamed and the documentation out of HR’s hands. Meanwhile, NDAs are used to cover tracks and keep a lid on the story.


The reason it needs your attention is simple. This is not something that only happens in celebrity land. Many, maybe even most, of the women I know have direct experience with on the job sexual harassment. The thing is, sexual harassment is a nearly tone-deaf label for what happens. Farrow’s book recounts story after story of women who experience dreadful things but have to go back to work the next day.


Then, adding insult to injury, their dependence on the job and their return is used as evidence that nothing happened. Meanwhile, HR Departments proudly point to the absence of reported complaints. One is left wondering how to help the HR folks who oversee this kind of mess. They suffer the same pressure. To notice and attempt to fix the situation puts them directly in the face of behavior that has long historical roots, that feels right to the perpetrators.


I have no recommendations or answers but this one. If you are in HR, please read “Catch and Kill.” Then, look around you and see what’s happening. You can pick up a copy of Catch and Kill on Amazon

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