For many company founders, the business they created is far more than an investment and is closer to a baby they have nurtured and supported. As the company achieves a significant level of success, however, the founders may not be quite as involved in day-to-day operations of the business. In this later phase, the owners may have retained an experienced CEO along with other senior officers who are striving to maximize the company’s bottom line while the owners focus on strategic alternatives and other opportunities outside the business.
It is at this point, when things appear to be running smoothly and company is on a profitable glide path, that the owners are stunned to learn that the rock star CEO they retained or one of the members of the CEO’s hand-picked management team is accused of sexual misconduct. This situation is becoming more common as the EEOC reported a 12% increase in the number of sexual harassment charges filed in fiscal year 2018. EEOC Preliminary FY 2018 Sexual Harassment Data (Oct. 4, 2018), https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-4-18.cfm. What are the next steps that company owners should take when these allegations are made? The answer is of critical importance to the business, because the company’s stakeholders are watching how this is handled, including other employees, managers and customers. This post presents some important Dos and Don’ts for company owners to consider when faced with their #MeToo Moment.