Lobbying Groups Join Fight Against Sexual Harassment

‘We just have not had anyone come out and report it just yet, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t or isn’t happening.’

K Street sign at 15th and K Streets in Washington, D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Major advocacy and government affairs groups are joining the fight against workplace sexual harassment in Washington.

Groups announced Wednesday the formation of a task force to develop a plan to protect professionals from harassment, with the goal of creating guidelines, standards and programs to support harassment victims.

“Our profession, like every other, is hit by this. We just have not had anyone come out and report it just yet, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t or isn’t happening,” said Paul A. Miller of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies and a member of the task force.

The Force to End Harassment in Advocacy task force aims to make recommendations to Congress ahead of the midterm elections recess. FEHA has put out a survey to the industry and will release the results in September.

“I think the results will be eye-opening,” said Miller, who also serves as president of the National Institute For Lobbying & Ethics.

The task force aims to be proactive in addressing the problem by supporting victims, preventing a soft landing for harassers, creating a safe space for reporting and ending sexual harassment.

“Whether you are on Capitol Hill, in the advocacy industry or the media, our businesses are based on relationships. But no one should have to put up with being threatened in their workplace to be successful. Unlike many other industries our workplaces can be a reception, Capitol Hill hearing room or office and the harasser can be a client, a member, a colleague or an elected official, which requires a unique approach,” said task force chair Stephanie Craig of the Apeiron Strategy Group.

Both chambers of Congress were moved to action in the last year following high-profile resignations over sexual harassment accusations as the #MeToo movement reached Capitol Hill. Those included Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, and Reps. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, Trent Franks of Arizona, John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Blake Farenthold of Texas and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania.

The House and Senate bills aimed at changing the workplace culture and overhauling how harassment allegations are handled have stalled in negotiations on a final bill.

The groups represented on the task force include Congress Too, a group of 1500 former Hill staffers calling for action against harassment on Capitol Hill, the Hispanic Lobbyists Association, National Institute of Lobbying and Ethics, the Washington Government Relations Group and Women in Government Relations.

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