public trust

Managing Sexual Abuse by Males

Sexual misconduct by males is an omnipresent problem in the workplace and demands tough-love responses from those responsible — and from the employers or institutions they represent.Jeff Cogen's affair with a Multnomah County staffer, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's serial sexual harassment allegations and New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's admitted repeat sexting are the latest high-profile examples of an issue many organizations have or will face.

The prevalence of male sexual misbehavior, and the increased willingness of women to confront their male tormentors publicly, means many more organizations — corporate, nonprofit and public — will be dragged into scandals with the potential of undermining customer, stakeholder and public trust. 

The tactic men usually fall back on — profusely apologizing with their wives and family at their side — is starting to crumble as an effective way to regain at least a shred of respect, let alone trust. Huma Abedin, Weiner's political-partner wife, is coming under fire herself for publicly defending her husband, despite his lapse back into online sexual mischief, including more photos of his penis. 

Considering the Public Interest

Starting with what's in the public interest, not just in your private interest, can lead you to new, innovative ways of addressing problems that disarm critics and persuade community members you are a good actor.Taking into account the public interest is an important step to ensuring your issue management strategy connects and resonates with the audience you need to influence.

You may have good arguments, but if they don't respond to the concerns of your audience, they may well fall on deaf ears. Injecting the public interest into your planning and thinking is one way to avoid that audience disconnect.

A good example is a company that wants to build a facility on a riverfront location. You may want to talk about jobs and economic opportunity, but your audience may be more interested in your safety and environmental record.