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HMC NEWS: PR agency warns Harvey Weinstein harassment fallout will impact on all businesses

Business leaders in the Waikato are being encouraged to learn how to prevent the Harvey Weinstein scandal impacting on their businesses.

Hamilton PR agency HMC Communications is running a learning lunch session on Tuesday 20 February with speakers from the legal, human resources, public relations and governance realms. “Managing reputation in the post-Harvey Weinstein world”, is designed to help senior leaders consider how they might be able to act differently in the wake of the scandal.

HMC Communications Director Heather Claycomb says it’s incredible to think that the indiscretions of one man have created such a tipping point around harassment, caused the massive #MeToo campaign and have even resulted in calls for Oprah Winfrey to run for US president.

“It might be easy to assume this is all about Hollywood, or that it’s nothing to do with businesses in New Zealand, but what we’ve seen in the past few months is a sea-change in how harassment is viewed and the expectations on those who know but do nothing about it. This is now impacting on everyone around the world.”

HMC Communications launched its suite of learning lunches in late 2017 with a cyber security workshop and crisis scenario. The Crucial Conversations over Lunch (CRUNCH) sessions are aimed at senior leaders, tackling topics that impact on them, no matter what industry they operate in. In particular, the 90-minute sessions help leaders navigate the pressures they face from sources outside their business and how that can impact reputation.

The 20 February CRUNCH session will bring together a panel of leading experts in HR, law, governance and PR to share their thoughts and answer questions. “We’ll be joined by some top people in these professions, who have been thinking about how the world has changed and what that means for business owners and leaders. They’ll be imparting their knowledge and sending participants away with many action points to make a difference,” Mrs Claycomb says.

She says business leaders are encouraged to act now to be proactive and learn how to protect their reputation. “What’s becoming increasingly evident from this scandal is that many people have known – and kept silent – about harassment. This will no longer be acceptable, and businesses could find themselves being accused of failing to keep staff safe and actually being complicit in this behaviour.

“It will no longer be enough to say you’ve got a harassment policy, nor will it be enough to say that a staff member accused of harassment is acting of their own accord.”

Organisational reputations are hard-won but easily lost and businesses can also suffer by association, Mrs Claycomb says. “Actor Kevin Spacey was dropped like a hot potato from movies and television series because those organisations could cut their ties quickly to minimise damage to their reputation. Not all businesses will be able to do that, so leaders need to know what they can do to prevent and act on issues.”

The 20 February CRUNCH session takes place at Waikato Innovation Park from 12-1.30pm. The cost is $50 to cover a light lunch and venue hire; places are limited to 40. Registrations can be made at https://www.hmc-communications.co.nz/page/crunch/ or email Carole Giles -  HMC Business Support Manager.