HR consulting firm established to fight sexual harassment in political campaigns

26 March 2019 Consulting.us

Bright Compass, a self-described “full-service human resources (HR) consulting firm,” has attached itself to the #MeToo movement in an attempt to stabilize and prevent sexual harassment from occurring during political campaigns. 

Sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement have been dominating international headlines, with notable politicians, celebrities, and public figures becoming embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals.

Sexual harassment extends into all industries, and especially those traditionally dominated by men, like political consulting. A survey conducted by PSB Research revealed that 46% of female political consultants say they have been a victim of sexual harassment in the industry, according to an article by online political publication Campaigns & Elections (C&E). 

“Overall, among both men and women, 59% said sexual harassment is at least somewhat common in the industry and 44% said they’d witnessed or encountered it themselves,” the article states. The survey’s results are based on online interviews with more than 400 political consultants between January 10 and February 2.

HR consulting firm established to fight sexual harassment in political campaigns

“One thing we’ve found is that staff are starting to demand a greater accountability from their bosses and have different expectations from their organizations – even from two years ago,” Dallas Thompson, Bright Compass’s founder and president, said in an interview with C&E.

The firm offers HR policy reviews, single or full staff training, and services such as drafting HR policies for political campaigns. 

“It’s not a one-size-fits all solution,” Thompson said. “We pride ourselves on tailoring and customizing for any campaigns’ needs. We are especially interested in helping Democratic firms and progressive firms who want to live out their values do that in this post #MeToo era. The law hasn’t caught up.”

The political campaign world leaves workers especially vulnerable to harassment and assault. Most campaigns do not have an HR department, and a public complaint often means career suicide for the accuser. Samantha Register, who worked on Ruben Kihuen’s 2106 campaign for the US House of Representatives, penned an article in the Nevada Independent in which she wrote the candidate had threatened to “destroy her” after she accused him of sexual harassment. 

“I worked on eight different campaigns before I decided to quit,” she wrote in the article. "None of them had either an HR department or any system in place for filing complaints. Campaign staff members who are being mistreated seemingly have no options other than either risk their careers and financial stability by quitting, or stay on a campaign and endure abuse.” 

Bright Compass, however, is not aimed at simply bringing down the accused, but at forging a safer, more inclusive, and better functioning political consulting industry. Harassment accusations negatively affect everyone working in a campaign, Thompson said, threatening jobs and creating emotional strife that lasts long after the last ballots are cast. “You really lose your team’s best work. Even if it’s not the person being harassed, if somebody witnesses it, they’re not able to perform the best."

The idea of a sexual harassment-focused consultancy is not new. A firm focusing on issues of economic abuse against women was launched in New York in March 2018. The Maren Group consults individuals and organizations in issues of sexual harassment, discrimination, domestic violence, and child support. Many of the firm’s consultants have themselves been victims of harassment, assault, or other forms of abuse. 

“Our individual battles against economic abuse predate #MeToo and #TimesUp but those movements have positioned us to make significant strides against these abuses and effect true cultural and institutional change,” Lisa Senecal, The Maren Group cofounder, said at the time of the firm’s launch. “Clearly, traditional workplace training has failed us. Enormous sums are invested every year with no clear benefit to employers or employees. Our combined experience and expertise make us uniquely qualified to guide our individual and corporate clients while enabling us to identify, analyze, and remedy the organizational flaws that put employees, businesses, and investors at risk.”

Related: Former PwC Partner accused of sexual assault attempts to sue firm for £5 million


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