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Time for Jewelry Industry to Say #MeToo

Discrimination in the workplace is never acceptable.

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BY NOW you would have to be living under a rock if you weren’t aware of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the famous hashtag which continues to gain traction. Hollywood has taken note of what permeates some workplaces even to this day. It ran rampant, as many women will attest, when I began my career 40 years ago. All one has to do is watch one episode of Mad Men to understand what women had to deal with in the advertising and media world. It is also important to note that it is not just women who have been faced with harassment; men have had to deal with this issue, too.

In the first few years of Fruchtman Marketing’s existence, I faced everything from a large client directly asking me to sleep with him over a client lunch to another large client telling me he was “Jewing me down.” Another large corporate client asked for a “private meeting” with our 25-year-old designer to discuss his corporate brochure layout. What we are witnessing is a female movement the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was burning my bra. He proceeded to blatantly ask her for sex and tell her that if she didn’t comply, she would be responsible for losing his account. This gentleman was a “respected” member of our local Jewish community, one whom our family knew well. Imagine the chutzpah.

And, worse yet, the owner of a large media company in our city told me in front of his COO that he felt it “difficult to work with strong Jewish women” and because of that, it might be best we didn’t continue working together. I kid you not. The COO called me 30 minutes after I left to ask me not to file a lawsuit.

Suffice it to say we resigned from three of the accounts mentionedand the last we lost because I was a Jewish woman. Discrimination in the workplace is never acceptable.

Sadly, the jewelry industry cannot claim innocence. We’re all well aware of the sexual harassment class-action case filed in 2008 against Sterling (with declarations from roughly 250 women), currently in arbitration. Whether Sterling is guilty of these practices remains to be seen. And, in this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. But we all also know how prevalent this is in companies across the country.

What we are witnessing is a female movement the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was burning my bra. It’s the type of marketing campaign that is taking “viral” to a new level. The jewelry industry, which by and large is targeted to women, has an opportunity to do something big. To stand up as a community and support the effort. To raise dollars for assault and harassment victims.

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Time to turn #MeToo into #NotOnMyWatch.

This article is an online extra for INSTORE.

Ellen Fruchtman is founder and president of Fruchtman Marketing. Contact her at (800) 481-3520, or sign up for a free weekly newsletter at fruchtman.com.

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