Fight against sexual harassment in workplace takes on U.S. health care

Effort will fight misconduct within industry
By Ellen Wulfhorst
||Last Updated: 03/12/2019
Women hold four out of five jobs in U.S. health care but only one in 10 of its chief executive jobs, according to Time's Up Healthcare. Shutterstock

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — A campaign that began amid the #MeToo movement to battle workplace sexual harassment launched a new effort on Thursday to fight misconduct in the giant U.S. health-care industry, organizers said.

Time's Up Healthcare will promote policies to make health-care leadership more gender-balanced and accountable and address workplace discrimination, harassment and abuse, said the leaders of its parent organization, Time's Up, in a statement.

Time's Up was launched at the start of 2018 by actresses, writers and others in the entertainment industry to broaden efforts to fight sexual harassment in the workplace beyond Hollywood and fund expenses for people taking legal action.

It was set up following multiple accusations in late 2017 of sexual misconduct against actors and filmmakers, fueled by the #MeToo social media movement that has since engulfed the worlds of politics and business.

Health-care workers are the second-largest group of people who have contacted Time's Up seeking legal help, after workers in arts and entertainment, the group said.

Women hold four out of five jobs in health care but only one in 10 of its chief executive jobs, it said.

"We are well represented in this workforce but not in positions of power," said Dr. Esther Choo, one of the founders of Time's Up Healthcare, in a statement.

A study presented at a recent an annual meeting of medical professionals said 58 per cent of women surgeons had experienced sexual harassment in the preceding 12 months of the research, compared with 25 per cent of male surgeons.

Most women surveyed said they did not report the incidents, citing a fear of retribution or a negative impact on their career, the study said.

More than 13 million people are employed in the U.S. health-care industry, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit group that focuses on national health issues.

Time's Up's first chief executive, Lisa Borders, resigned earlier this month after her son was accused of sexual assault.

Its legal fund for victims of workplace sexual harassment raised more money — more than US$20 million — on the popular GoFundMe online site than any other cause last year.

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