The Aperta Project
The Aperta Project
Changing the narrative on sexual harassment

The Aperta Project was born out of frustration. When the #MeToo movement made headlines in late 2017 I had been in Human Resources for 15 years, and was working in Tech. I kept hearing the same conversations between and among leaders and HR professionals, the very people tasked with preventing workplace sexual harassment.

These conversations focused on legal compliance, corporate risk mitigation, and preventing an embarrassing “MeToo moment” on social media, rather than asking how sexual harassment could still be so prevalent despite all of our policies, training, and investigations.

It seemed abundantly clear to me that meeting legal requirements was never going to be enough to prevent sexual harassment. I wanted to start a different conversation.  

I began a research project that led to discussions with hundreds of people: targets of harassment, leaders, HR professionals, researchers, advocates, lawyers, and other experts. Almost every person I spoke to connected me with someone else. And I read what felt like every research paper ever written about sexual harassment.

The more I dug into it, the more it became clear that this issue was unavoidably complex, and connected to other societal and workplace patterns, like incivility, bullying, discrimination, and sexism. Organizations are always hungry for simple answers, “best practices”, and quick fixes. But that’s not going to solve complex challenges like harassment or inclusion, and may in fact cause more harm.   

I don’t believe the answer is optimizing our current approach (policies, training, investigations), but rather seeking to fully understand and appreciate the problem that we face, and identify new, more effective approaches to address it.

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Jane Watson