Last month, we published a story about a Red Cross executive accused of sexual misconduct. An internal investigation turned up troubling evidence that prompted the charity to push him out … but then a Red Cross executive gave him a “very positive” reference on the way out the door.
That same week, BuzzFeed published a story about an editor at Reuters who was accused of sexually harassing his subordinate ... and then went on to get another high-level job at Newsweek. A senior adviser on the 2008 Clinton campaign was also chastised for sexual harassment, but kept his job. The New York Times reports that he was then fired from a group aiding her 2016 campaign after several months for more workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide.
These stories raise often difficult legal and ethical questions: What should managers and businesses do when an employee comes to them with an allegation? Who should conduct an investigation and how thorough should it be? How should companies announce the departures of employees fired for cause? What should they do about references when that person goes looking for their next gig?
As we did our reporting, we realized that while there are some common policies — such as giving only dates of employment when asked for a reference — actual practices vary widely.
That’s why we’re excited that the Harvard Business Review has an ask-the-expert callout running as part of their Managing #MeToo series. They’re going to explore what the standards should be, how they should be enforced and more.
They’d like to know what you are actually talking about in your workplaces. Send in your hardest questions, your most ethically charged debates, and your thorniest human resources details, and they’ll find an expert to weigh in.
If you’d like, you can send me an email with your detailed questions (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a message on Signal if you’d rather ask in private (314-920-5990). I’ll pass them along to HBR.