Project for Deeper Understanding panel to address sexual misconduct, power in workplace

The post-#MeToo world is, in many ways, very different from the one that predated the movement to end sexual harassment and abuse. Many men and women are looking at their past and current interactions with others in a new light following the flood of allegations of sexual misconduct against male leaders in various industries. This introspection is seen perhaps the most often in the workplace.

To help guide individuals as they reevaluate professional relationships, Park City’s Project for Deeper Understanding plans to host a public forum entitled “Sex, Power & the Workplace: MeToo — Movement or Moment?” The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday at St. Luke’s Church at 4595 N. Silver Springs Drive. It is set to start at 7 p.m. and run for two hours. It will be broadcast live on KPCW radio. The event is free and open to the public.

Renai Bodley Miller, president and general manager of KPCW, will moderate the panel. Panelists are scheduled to include Jacob Jobe, a teacher at Park City High School; Mike O’Brien, an employment and media law attorney; and Robbyn Scribner, a researcher and writer for the Utah Women and Leadership Project at Utah Valley University.

Bodley Miller said that the topic was selected because there has been a mix of emotions and reactions associated with #MeToo. Men are confused about what they can and cannot do, while many women feel guilty for not speaking up about inappropriate things said or done that they witnessed, she said.

The goal of the evening is to help people see other perspectives and have a “greater respect for where the other person is coming from,” Bodley Miller said. That is the overarching purpose of the Project for Deeper Understanding, which started in 2006.

Bodley Miller said that the event is meant to show how complex the issue is, which she plans to demonstrate by first asking each of the panelists what the #MeToo movement means for them in their different fields.

Scribner said she plans to provide a clear definition of what sexual harassment is and what it is not during the panel, and let individuals know that if they are experiencing something that they are not comfortable with, there are resources and support available to help empower them to speak up against the behavior.

She also wants to provide resources to businesses — particularly small businesses — so they are aware of policies to put in place to create safe workplaces.

Bodley Miller said that O’Brien will likely discuss the training that businesses can go through to reduce sexual misconduct as well.

She is particularly excited to hear the different perspective that Jobe can bring, since he teaches a class on social justice at the high school.

“I am really curious to hear what the younger generation has to say about what they are learning, what they are being taught and what they witness when it comes to interactions between the genders at a younger age,” she said.

Bodley Miller and Scribner said they hope a wide range of individuals come to the event in order to offer diverse opinions. Bodley Miller plans on opening the discussion to audience questions after the panel conversation.

Scribner said that, regardless of people’s views on the topic, they will likely walk away with new information or a new way of thinking.

“Any time people speak openly and with vulnerability, everybody is going to learn something,” she said.

She said that having conversations within a community like Park City can be powerful to incite change, particularly with topics that are far-reaching like sexual misconduct.

“Getting this issue really into the open, I think it’s a super powerful way to start addressing it,” she said. “The more we can talk about things openly, the much better equipped we are to start dealing with these issues effectively.”

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