A message from Tina Tchen
Our Vision for 2021: Measuring Up to What Women Deserve
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This January marks three years since TIME’S UP was formed, turning the pain — exposed by those who spoke out about harassment and assault at the hands of powerful, high profile men in the fall of 2017 — into action. Because of the courage of millions of survivors who stepped forward in ways large and small over the past three years, today, the public has a far greater understanding of how systemic power imbalances play into sexual harassment and assault, rather than simply the predatory behavior of a few individuals.
And we have the evidence to prove it.
More CEOs than ever before are being held accountable for perpetuating toxic workplace culture and norms. More women say they are likely to report harassment, and more than half of young men say we’re helping them “rethink” how they treat women. And earlier this year, two short years after the silence breakers courageously came forward, Harvey Weinstein was convicted and sentenced to decades in prison.
This new era of justice isn’t just happenstance. TIME’S UP’s first initiative, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, housed at the National Women’s Law Center, has provided support to more than 5,000 people, three-quarters of whom identify as low-paid workers. And at TIME’S UP itself, we are building a talented team of subject matter experts, organizers and leaders working tirelessly to break down the barriers that continually hold women back from economic and professional opportunity, and make workplaces both unequal and unsafe.
Much progress has been made, but we can’t let up, especially now. We are entering 2021 amid a crushing economic recession, a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and now a caregiving crisis — all of which threaten to reverse the hard-won strides we’ve made when it comes to equity in this country. We are already seeing the consequences in the struggles of hundreds of thousands of women, especially women of color and women in low-paying jobs, who have been forced to cut back on hours or drop out of the labor force entirely to provide care to their children, elderly relatives, or loved ones.
Again, this is not a coincidence. This pandemic has laid bare what women have known for generations: deep structural barriers remain to safe, fair, and dignified work. And those bearing the brunt of the current crises — survivors, caregivers, frontline workers, women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ people, and those living with disabilities — are also those who are most vulnerable to abuses of power.
It’s clear that our economy is not measuring up to the workplaces we all deserve — but we need more data and first-hand experiences to understand the impact of COVID-19 on women’s lives. To help fill this knowledge gap, we launched Time’s Up, Measure Up, a five-year initiative to provide the research, oral histories, and cultural context that will shine a light on the impact of gender and racial inequities that have only grown with the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative, the only comprehensive research designed with a gender lens, will be essential to our collective knowledge about whether the public policy and private sector changes being made to repair our economy in the coming months and years are really working for all workers, up and down the wage scale.
The public is with us in this push for change. Just today, TIME’S UP Foundation released a poll that found overwhelming support for a comprehensive, holistic approach to solving our nation’s caregiving crisis. This includes support from nine out of 10 Democrats and eight out of 10 Republicans. And we have new research coming out in the new year that will show that investing in our care infrastructure will create millions of jobs, just when we need that kind of stimulus to rebuild our economy.
We also know that employers do not have to wait for public policy makers to act. Companies who want to build better workplaces can do that right now. Many business leaders are seeing the need, but don’t know how to start. That’s why at the start of the pandemic, TIME’S UP quickly gathered a cross section of experienced business leaders to assemble practical advice that employers can implement now to promote safety and equity at work, especially during a time of crisis. The TIME’S UP Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis is open-sourced for all, and has already been accessed by thousands of leaders across the country.
Even so, changing public policy and corporate practice is only part of the equation. We need to change our overall culture to break workplace norms and attitudes that have been generations in the making. We learned this lesson three years ago: we’ve had anti-sexual harassment laws on the books for decades, yet it took the revelations of #MeToo in 2017 to create a radical sea change in society. Three years later, the problem persists.
This means we too have to be persistent in our fight to build a culture of equality and respect. That’s why in 2020, TIME’S UP Now launched the We Have Her Back campaign, to call out sexist, racist and misogynistic attacks against women running for political office, as those attacks undermine how we see women leaders in every part of our lives.
Three years ago, TIME’S UP was founded to create a world where work is safe, fair, and dignified for all – and one where the survivors of sexual harassment can pursue justice, free from retaliation or intimidation. Despite how much our world has changed, that vision has not. Now is the time to create sustainable, lasting change as we rebuild what “work” is from the ground on up.
Tina Tchen is the president and CEO of the TIME’S UP Now and TIME’S UP Foundation, and a cofounder of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.