What's changed five years post-#MeToo?
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
View as webpage, click here.
Good morning and happy Halloween! We’ve got a packed newsletter today, but let’s first start with a lighthearted joke.

What time is it when an elephant sits on your bed?
Time for a new bed.

Now for more serious, adult matters. Here’s what’s on deck in this week’s edition of Fearless:
  • The #MeToo movement turned 5 this month. I took a look at what has – and hasn’t – changed in the realm of sexual harassment and assault since the hashtag took the world by storm in 2017.
  • In her latest Leading Fearlessly column, Business Publications Corp. President and CEO Suzanna de Baca talked with four women leaders about what it’s like being a working mom.
  • As we round out the month of October, which is domestic violence awareness month, we’re running an excerpt of a guest opinion piece by Maria Corona, who is the executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Read her whole column on the Fearless website.

All that and more below! Have a great week.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

P.S. Don’t forget to register for our in-person Fearless celebration on Nov. 17! It’ll be a morning filled with inspiration, storytelling and connection.

Five years post-#MeToo, what's changed?
It’s estimated that more than 80% of women and 40% of men have been sexually harassed in their lifetimes. But until five years ago, sexual harassment and assault weren’t talked about widely in the public sphere.

In October 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet," after reporting by the New York Times and the New Yorker revealed sexual assault allegations against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein. It is also worth noting that the phrase "me too" and the #MeToo movement were first coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 as a way for Black women and girls to share experiences of sexual trauma.

Milano’s tweet and the #MeToo movement became a vehicle for people to share their stories about sexual harassment and misconduct they experienced in and outside of the workplace.

At the five-year anniversary mark, has the #MeToo movement done anything to curtail sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace?

"The world is forever changed because of #MeToo," Burke wrote in a column for Time magazine. "The language we use is shifting, replacing words like victim with survivor. We talk about mental health and healing, and employers are crafting thoughtful human-­resource policies, not just reacting after a workplace harassment crisis. Consumers are more conscientious about the cultural content they consume and vocal about calling out rape culture when they see it."

In another piece in Fortune, Burke said, "It’s not so much about what has been done, but more so what #MeToo made possible. … I’ve had a lot of disappointment over the last five years, don’t get me wrong. … But a path has been cleared because #MeToo went viral. I don’t have to take as long to explain why this work is important. I don’t have to beg people to make space to have this conversation. There was a time when I had to literally beg people to get this issue on an agenda. Now people want me on the agenda."

Iowa author and advocate Kirsten Anderson believes that #MeToo has empowered others to talk about what’s happened to them.

"It’s shown that people aren’t as alone as they may have thought they were. That’s really positive. It’s also shown that we have a long way to go in that. Now we need to start turning those conversations into actions," Anderson said.

She said now is the time for employers to advocate for safe, inclusive work environments.

"Post-pandemic, we’ve seen our workplaces change dramatically," Anderson said. "We’re advocating for our own best workplaces. [Harassment and microaggressions] should be part of the conversation."

As far as concrete, measurable actions taken as a response to the #MeToo movement, here are some examples.

The question of whether or not Americans believe the #MeToo movement has changed the climate around workplace misconduct, though, produces mixed results.  

Iowa’s crime victim service delivery model is nationally recognized, yet Iowa invests little in support services
Intimate partner violence is a preventable but persistent public health problem affecting almost 1 in 2 women in their lifetime. Failing to prevent violence is a public policy choice. Gender, racial, economic and social inequity are the roots of sustaining and perpetuating violence.

Addressing these systems of oppression as a collective, across sectors and through equitable policies at all levels and systems is the most direct path toward violence prevention.

How so?

Unequal power and resource distributions across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, ability, immigration status and other identities create disproportionately harmful outcomes for children and families.

Unequal power and resources affects how individuals experience violence; if and how victims access or define justice; how systems, organizations and individuals respond; help-seeking behaviors; and how victim needs are met. It affects individual and community safety, health and well-being.   

Iowa’s crime victim service delivery model and network of 29 victims service agencies across the state (serving sexual and domestic violence, homicide, and violent crime victims) are nationally recognized. They are administered by the Crime Victim Assistance Division and supported by the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  

Due to limited funding, in 2013 Iowa implemented a restructured service delivery model to effectively provide quality services and better serve survivors of sexual assault and victims in rural areas.

The restructure prioritized mobile advocacy and a "housing first" model focused on prioritizing safe housing and offering comprehensive support services to promote long-term stability beyond crisis counseling.

Since implementation, providers more than doubled the number of survivors served, greatly expanded access in rural areas, and more effectively provided comprehensive, quality services.

Unfortunately, Iowa invests very little in crime victim support services. In 2017, legislators cut state crime victim services funding by 25%, illustrating the lack of priority to invest in the safety of survivors.

In the "aftermath" of COVID-19, we are witnessing a higher demand for services, increased costs in victims' needs and unprecedented staff turnover. Crime victim service providers rely on state funding to support staff and infrastructure. Less funding means less staff and fewer victims served.

Insufficient funding inevitably forces providers to prioritize crisis support and curtails Iowa’s success in building an ecosystem of support for survivors before and beyond the crisis.

In the headlines
Noreen Bush, the superintendent of the Cedar Rapids School District, died earlier this month after a 2 1/2-year battle with cancer. In a statement, Gov. Kim Reynolds said, "Noreen Bush embodied the heart of education. She took immense pride in her school district and worked tirelessly to deliver the best opportunities possible to the students and families she served."

A Des Moines Register investigation has found that former Iowa State University women’s soccer players have accused head coach Matt Fannon of creating a toxic culture through verbal abuse, emotional outbursts and body shaming. According to Iowa State's online rosters, at least 17 players have transferred, quit or were kicked off the team since Fannon arrived in 2019.

Pop star Taylor Swift has edited her new music video, "Anti-Hero," after facing backlash from fans and critics, who said that the visual of the word "fat" while she stood on a scale was fatphobic. The move follows other high-profile singers, including Lizzo and Beyonce, who have faced pressure from fans to change lyrics that were ableist.

In a roundtable discussion with business leaders earlier this month, Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley spoke about how child care issues affect the workforce. Ernst and Grassley unveiled bills they’ve signed on to, including the Small Business Child Care Investment Act, which would allow nonprofits to participate in the same loan programs available to for-profit businesses; and the Child Care Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act, which would make child care more affordable for parents, improve reimbursement rates for families with parents making less than 150% of the state’s median income, and lessen restrictions on home-based providers. Ernst also said that businesses shouldn’t rely solely on the government to find solutions to addressing the child care crisis.

A new public-private pilot program that builds off Business Publications Corp.’s Iowa Stops Hunger initiative will target food-insecure women who may not qualify for assistance. The Iowa Stops Hunger Coalition will launch programming for women between the ages of 21 and 44, many of whom are moms who work low-wage jobs or have left the workforce, and may not qualify for SNAP, WIC or free or reduced-price lunch programs. The coalition is made up by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Human Services, BPC, Hy-Vee and Mom’s Meals.

Worth checking out
Women can’t wait any longer for gender equality (CNN Opinion). From wildfires to hurricanes, midwives could play a key role in disaster response (The 19th). Workers don’t think their employers are doing enough in response to ‘Roe’ – and it could lead to more quits (Fortune). After #MeToo reckoning, a fear Hollywood is regressing (New York Times). More than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. What can be done to save more lives? (The 19th).
We invite you to join us and others equally passionate about empowering Iowa women as we celebrate two years of the Business Record’s Fearless initiative. Women, gender-nonconforming individuals and male allies are all encouraged to be fearless with us.

To celebrate Fearless, a lineup of inspiring women will share their stories of fearlessness and courage. Attendees at the Nov. 17 event will be seated at a table with female leaders, including some of our past Women of Influence honorees, who will lead powerful discussions to share perspectives and insights on succeeding in work and life. Attendees will build additional connections with leaders and other participants as they rotate to different tables throughout the event.

As part of our Fearless core values, this event will create an atmosphere where everyone has a seat and voice at the table. This dynamic interaction will give you not only a chance to learn from others’ experiences and engage in topics facing women in the workplace, but you’ll also have the opportunity to develop and deepen your relationships with women across the state.

Guest speakers are:

Details: Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, 10 a.m. to noon , Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel
Working moms matter
From left: Jessica Dunker, Sara Kurovski, Jackie Norris and Lindsey White.
About 20 years ago when I was working on Wall Street, a colleague who was expecting her first child asked her leader if she could move to a part-time position for a few years. Despite 16 years of tenure as a top performer, she was told no, that wouldn’t work – her role had to be full time. She came to me in tears just to commiserate, thinking she would have to leave her job if she wanted to spend time with her newborn. And she wanted to keep working.

This seemed ridiculous to me. I immediately asked her if she’d consider moving into a different department and role in business development where she could set her own hours. We created a position, and – not surprisingly – she quickly became one of our leading producers. Why had her leader been so quick to dismiss a star performer who simply wanted a different working arrangement when it would have been easy to explore other ways of using her talents? That attitude was par for the course at that time.

Parental leave and new work arrangements have changed significantly in the last few decades, but most employers still have a long way to go. According to a new report by family benefits platform Ovia Health, parental benefits matter more than ever to working women. In this survey of working mothers, 77% of respondents indicated that family-friendliness through support/benefits is their top priority in employers. However, about 4 in 10 reported feeling that their employer is not currently family-friendly; nearly 50% said their parental leave benefits were confusing and 90% said they’d leave their company for a similar job with better family benefits. These are big numbers.

What are family-friendly benefits? These can include part-time or remote options, flexible work schedules, mental health support, a supportive physical environment with privacy for lactation, and – of course – child care assistance or subsidies. Additionally, help with returning to work was lifted up as a valuable resource. Is your company prioritizing working women as a part of your workforce?

I turned to local leaders and asked what workplace benefits or cultural factors are most important to them as a working parent. Here’s what they had to say:

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO, Iowa Restaurant Association and Iowa Hotel & Lodging Association: "A flexible work environment has always meant more to me than money. For 25 years I’ve been fortunate to have workplaces that allow me to attend my children’s activities, use sick time for an ill child, work from home as needed, and be the mom of five first, and an employee second. I’ve offered the same flexibility to my team."

Sara Kurovski, CEO, Make-A-Wish Iowa; mayor, Pleasant Hill: The professional workplace has always made room for regenerative activities: power lunches, happy hour networking, conferences and social events. Culturally, we as leaders have to vocalize and model the flexibility to attend children's activities, take care of a sick child. This creates parity across employees and yields reciprocal loyalty.

Jackie Norris, president and owner, SPPG; at-large director, Des Moines School Board: My company’s vision isn’t growth or profit, it’s about creating a workplace for women to do meaningful work, with competitive pay and the flexibility needed to fill their "bucket." It’s bringing in a baby to keep a breastfeeding routine, walking a child to school or creating a schedule that allows you to have the house to yourself before work starts.

Lindsey J. White, vice president and control management senior manager, Wells Fargo: I value autonomy and flexibility. If I have other obligations or things that are important to me, I value a working environment that allows for that. Whether it’s a community luncheon, my son’s basketball game or a personal day at the spa, I can operate best at work when I know I can take care of myself outside of it.

I asked these executives about a time they confronted an obstacle or barrier to advancement at work because of being a working mother.

Advocates, child care professionals call for sustainable change to support industry
Heidi Leavengood of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, Amy Curtis of the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children, and Kay Stahorn of the Conmigo Early Education Center participate in a panel discussion on child care with Dave Stone, advocacy officer for the United Way of Central Iowa, on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Crumb.
Actions taken over the past year to address the state’s child care crisis were "baby steps," and more needs to be done, Dawn Oliver Wiand, president and CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation, said Tuesday.

Oliver Wiand helped moderate an hourlong conversation about child care, sharing data and proposed legislation for the 2023 session to address challenges facing the child care industry. More than 50 child care providers and advocates attended the conversation, held at the United Way of Central Iowa in Des Moines.

The conversation also included a panel discussion with comments from Kay Stahorn, director of the Conmigo Early Education Center, Amy Curtis, an ECQuiP consultant with the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children, and Heidi Leavengood, senior vice president of accounting for Ruan Transportation Management Systems.

Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the group publisher of BPC:
Contact Fearless editor:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2022, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign