Building on #MeToo, Foundations Look to Change Workplaces in the U.S. and Around the World

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Building on #MeToo, Foundations Look to Change Workplaces in the U.S. and Around the World

Feeling safe at work is not something many people, especially women, can take for granted—a fact strongly tied to men’s tendency to mistreat women in many cultures. Women’s safety at work in the U.S. and around the world is the initial focus of a new philanthropic collaborative that brings together 11 funders and “at least” $5 million annually in grants to an initial five-year commitment tentatively named the Collaborative Fund for Women's Safety and Dignity. The Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations (OSF), NoVo Foundation, Kapor Center, Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Conrad Hilton Foundation, the CBS television network (which has very public ties to the #MeToo movement through the alleged misconduct of its former chief executive, Leslie Moonves, and their related philanthropy), and three anonymous foundations are all on board. The fund will be housed at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and launches with more than $20 million in initial commitments. 

As research has shown and the #MeToo movement illustrated, many women experience abuses such as rape, trafficking, domestic violence or sexual harassment within their lifetimes. Approximately one in four women (and one in nine men) experience intimate partner violence and about 80 percent of women experience some form of sexual harassment and/or assault. A great many women have reported experiencing workplace harassment—25 to 90 percent, depending on the industry and on how harassment is defined in surveys. While high-profile cases have brought media attention to these issues, we know that many harms go unseen, unreported or unaddressed, particularly in less affluent and marginalized communities and in lower-wage workplaces. 

The new fund includes all girls and women in its purview—cis, transgender and gender nonconforming. It aims to elevate input from survivors and prioritize efforts led by women of color and low-income, indigenous and migrant women. 

Kavita N. Ramdas, director of OSF’s Women’s Rights Program, tells Inside Philanthropy, “Women’s bodies have long been the battleground for equality, justice and freedom” within patriarchal cultures, and that “sexual assault and harassment in the workplace are a crucial part of this systemic problem...