Gretchen Carlson has become a leader in the fight against sexual harassment at work, and she wants others to know what to do if they’ve been abused too.
The former Fox News host, 51, discussed harassment in the workplace during an interview with the podcast host Manoush Zomorodi, before giving a Ted Talk on the topic at the TedWomen 2017 conference.
Carlson, who led the fight against the former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes last year, detailed three steps people can take if they’ve been sexually harassed at work, to better prepare before they come forward against their abusers.
Speaking out: Gretchen Carlson, 51, discussed harassment in the workplace before giving a Ted Talk on the topic at the TedWomen 2017 conference last week
‘First and foremost, you must contact a lawyer first, before you do anything. Even if it’s a 10-minute phone conversation, because the laws are different in every state, the statutes of limitation are different,’ she said during the interview last week.
‘And oftentimes what happens to women is we take it, we take it, we take it, we think that it will stop, we think we can work harder to get past it and then finally one day we combust and we go and we file a complaint. And what’s the problem? We don’t have a plan.’
The second step in Carlon’s plan of action is to ‘document, document, document’.
‘Write a journal,’ she added. ‘Everything that’s happening to you. “On March 5 2015, this happened at 8:42 am and I told Ben Smith that this happened to me and Tracy Anderson witnessed it.” ‘
She recommended keeping ’emails, texts, cards’, adding: ‘And here’s the key: take it home. I can’t tell you how many women reached out to me and said they had documented, and then when they were fired they couldn’t go back to their office to get it.’
The third step recommended by Carlson is to let at least two trusted colleagues know about the sexual harassment taking place in the workplace.
‘I know it’s hard, but please have the bravery and courage to tell two, because as long as we’re in the “He said, she said” culture, which I believe is changing – but as long as we’re still there, you need witnesses,’ she said.
‘You need people to say, “Yes, she told me. She told me what happened.” ‘
Carlson has penned a book, Be Fierce, about stopping harassment in the workplace, where she details nine further steps victims can take to prepare their defense.
Talk: Carlson shared her three-step action plan during an interview with the podcast host Manoush Zomorodi (left)
Advice: She recommended talking to a lawyer first and foremost, to get up-to-date information on the laws and statute of limitations that exist in the state where the harassment occurred
In her 14-minute Ted Talk, Carlson described sexual harassment in the workplace as a horrifying reality affecting millions of women even though all they want to do is go to work every day.
She pointed out it is a bi-partisan issue, affecting Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike.
‘Sexual harassment, it turns out, is not about sex. It’s about power, and about what somebody does to you to try and take away your power,’ she told her audience.
‘On July 6, 2016, I jumped off a cliff all by myself. It was the scariest moment of my life; an excruciating choice to make,’ Carlson added, recounting the moment she went public with her accusations against Ailes.
‘I fell into an abyss all alone, not knowing what would be below. But then, something miraculous started to happen. Thousands of women started reaching out to me to share their own stories of pain and agony and shame. They told me that I became their voice—they were voiceless. And suddenly, I realized that even in the 21st century, every woman still has a story.’
Carlson recounted how she first experience harassment at the end of her year as Miss America, in 1989, while meeting ‘with a very high-ranking TV executive in New York City’.
‘I thought he was helping me throughout the day, making a lot of phone calls. We went to dinner, and in the back seat of a car, he suddenly lunged on top of me and stuck his tongue down my throat,’ she said. ‘I didn’t realize that to “get into the business”—silly me—he also intended to get into my pants.’
She told the crowd of another instance that followed shortly, adding: ‘And just a week later, when I was in Los Angeles meeting with a high-ranking publicist, it happened again. Again, in a car. And he took my neck in his hand, and he shoved my head so hard into his crotch, I couldn’t breathe.
Epidemic: In her 14-minute Ted Talk , Carlson described sexual harassment in the workplace as a horrifying reality affecting millions of women
Past: Carlson recounted how she first experience harassment at the end of her year as Miss America, in 1989, while meeting ‘with a very high-ranking TV executive in New York City’
How it began: The former Fox host (pictured left on the network) led the charge against the former network CEO Roger Ailes (pictured right in an archive photo) last year
‘These are the events that suck the life out of all of your self-confidence. These are the events that, until recently, I didn’t even call assault. And this is why we have so much work to do.’
Carlson showed the crowd a photo of her meeting with Donald Trump in 1988, telling the audience: ‘When this picture was taken in 1988, nobody could have ever predicted where we’d be today. Me, fighting to end sexual harassment in the workplace; he, president of the United States in spite of it.’
Trump, 71, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen of women. He and the White House have branded them liars, most recently late last month, during a meeting with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The host urged men and women to become ‘allies’ instead of ‘enablers’, and made the case for a change in law preventing companies from putting forced arbitration clauses in their contracts. These clauses keep allegations of sexual harassment secret by forcing employees to wave their Seventh Amendment right to a civil trial by jury.
She also encouraged victims of sexual harassment to ‘be fierce’ and come forward against their abusers so as to build a safer, more empowering environment for future generations.
‘Here’s my one last plea to companies,’ she added. ‘Let’s hire back all those women whose careers were lost because of some random jerk. Because here’s what I know about women: we will not longer be underestimated, intimidated or set back; we will not be silenced by the ways of the establishment or the relics of the past. No. We will stand up and speak up and have our voices heard. We will be the women we were meant to be.’