By now, even people who have paid scant attention to the film and movie industry know who Harvey Weinstein is. Movie mogul and co-founder, along with his brother of the company that bears the family name, Weinstein was amongst the elite of the film industry. Frequent Academy Award recipients, the company was responsible for such well-known films as The King’s Speech and Lion. After dominating the indie film scene for decades, Weinstein was brought down by numerous reports of sexual harassment. Among the endless reports of sexual misconduct were well-known names such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ashley Judd.
Allegations of sexual misconduct had been swirling around Weinstein for decades. It was one of the film industry’s worst kept secrets. According to the New York Times, Weinstein had settled eight sexual harassment claims dating back several decades.
Other visionary leaders, such as Martha Stewart, have successfully come back after scandals. However their misconduct was not directly related to violations against basic human rights, abuse of power and a complete lack of empathy for the victims involved. This makes the case of Harvey Weinstein especially odorous and difficult for an organization to come back from.
The board of directors, including his brother Bob Weinstein, acted quickly and fired Weinstein. They are looking at the changing the name and taking Weinstein’s name off credits of their productions. While there has been talk that the organization will be sold, the board denies this.
While a lack of empathy by Harvey Weinstein lead to the destruction of the Weinstein brand, bringing empathy into the organization could result in a rebirth and new direction for the organization. The board did the right thing and took necessary steps by immediately and unequivocally firing its co-founder. However, rebranding will not be an easy task and a difficult road lies ahead. As management consultant Jonathan Bernstein stated. “You’ve got to root out the problem and make sure that it’s completely eradicated, or else you’re going to end up with another company with a bad reputation.”
There are a number of steps that Weinstein Co. can do to “root out the problem” and move the company in a new, positive direction.
Do a thorough cleansing within the organization
This means looking at people within the organization that share the values of Harvey Weinstein and may have engaged in similar activity and ousting anyone who could contribute to similar problems in the future. Make it clear that this type of behavior or attitude is not tolerated and is unwelcome. It must be made perfectly clear that there will be zero tolerance for this type of behavior in the future.
Look for strong well-known females to hire to key leadership positions within the organization This sends a strong message that it is not business as usual and what was perhaps tolerated before will not be in the future.
Set up a clear code of conduct for everyone in the organization.
This includes a clearly defined and laid out process to investigate complaints and the consequences of behavior that falls outside of the limits of the organization. Set up a committee that has the power to fully investigate and make decisions on the results.
Take action to make restitution for past damage
Many court systems have recognized the power of forcing the perpetrators of crimes to make restitution to the victims for the damage done to them. One of the ways that a renamed, rebranded former Weinstein Co. could do this is to donate to a support group of sexual assault survivors. Another good way to carry this out would be to donate a portion of the profits from a future production or productions to such a cause.
Set up their own cause and support it
Even better than donating to a cause would be to set up and support a cause for sexual assault survivors. This would show that the organization is committed to a new direction and could be seen as making a complete break from its’ past. It would be seen as taking a negative situation and turning it into something positive.
Funding and producing a film or television series on the effects of sexual assault
Another way to turn the corner for the organization might be to produce or co-produce a work about sexual assault to bring more awareness and focus on support for the victims. In this way the misdeeds of the past could become the impetus for a better future. Out of the ashes of its murky past could come the seeds of a brighter, enlightened future.
Sincerity and empathy are the key
Whatever course the organization decides to take, it must be seen to be sincere and authentic in its desire to own up to the past and shape a new future. People will be watching and be suspicious of actions that are only meant as window dressing or trying to appear to be doing things differently. Any actions, if not sincere, will be discovered and can easily sabotage any efforts that have been done with good intent.