Gretchen Carlson warns employees against reporting harassment to HR


If you're wondering why, then take a look in the mirror.

Gretchen Carlson is no stranger to sexual harassment. A former Miss USA and accomplished violinist, Carlson documented in her 2015 book, "Getting Real," of her struggles to rise from a local reporter to a national correspondent on Fox News in a male-dominated media world. Last year, she made headlines when she accused Fox's former CEO, the recently deceased Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment. She ultimately settled with the company and is now devoting herself to writing and speaking about women's causes.

Her latest message: If you think you may be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, your human resources department may not be the best place for you to go.

"In the end," Carlson said to a gathering at Fortune Magazine's annual NYC Most Powerful Women dinner, "if the culture's being set from the top and it's trickling down to the lower levels, human resources may not be looking out for you."

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Gretchen Carlson through the years
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Gretchen Carlson through the years

Gretchen Carlson

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Miss America At Spireclub -- Miss America Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson plays Billiars In one of the rooms in the new club which offer many activities. With her showing how to shoot, is James. Stewart, Marketing agent for Pire club. September 15, 1988.

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Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990, Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004, and Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989

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Gretchen Carlson attends private screening: 'Memoirs of a Geisha' at Sony Screening Room on November 22, 2005 in New York City.

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John Voight, left, visits with anchors of 'Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson.

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John Edward, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade visit 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX Studios on October 5, 2010 in New York City.

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Miss America 1989 and Fox News Channel co-host Gretchen Carlson is introduced at the 2010 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Planet Hollywood)

Demi Lovato, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Clayton Morris visit 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX studios on August 18, 2010 in New York City.

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Ali Landry (C) poses for a photo with 'FOX & Friends' Co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy outside the FOX studios on September 9, 2010 in New York City.

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Elmo and host Gretchen Carlson visits 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX Studios on November 18, 2010 in New York City.

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'Fox & Friends' co-anchor Gretchen Carlson and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan attend 'Fox & Friends' at FOX Studios on January 17, 2011 in New York City.

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Miss America 1989 and Fox News Channel co-host Gretchen Carlson introduces pageant judges during the 2011 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 15, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Cookbook authors brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen visit FOX & Friends and talk to host Gretchen Carlson, at FOX & Friends at FOX Studios on April 20, 2011 in New York City.

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Host Steve Doocy, vocalist Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down and host Gretchen Carlson pose for photos during a taping of 'FOX and Friends' outside of FOX Studios on July 29, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage)

'FOX & Friends' hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade greet the crowd during a taping of 'FOX & Friends' at FOX Studios on July 15, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Cookbook authors brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen visit FOX & Friends and talk to host Gretchen Carlson, at FOX & Friends at FOX Studios on April 20, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Host Gretchen Carlson and Craig Morgan speak during 'FOX & Friends' All American Concert Series at FOX Studios on July 13, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)

Gretchen Carlson is the guest co-hoston 'The View.'

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Professional tennis double players and 2012 olympic gold medalists, Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan chat and play table tennis with 'FOX & Friends' hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade live on 'FOX & Friends' at FOX Studios on August 23, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade during 'FOX & Friends' All American Concert Series outside of FOX Studios on July 19, 2013 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade, John Lynch and The cast of 'Duck Dynasty' Si Robertson, Jep Robertson and Willie Robertson visit 'Fox And Friends' at Fox News Studios on September 9, 2013 in New York City.

(Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Fox News Channel Host Gretchen Carlson speaks onstage during a 'Fireside Chat on Persecuted' panel at Variety's Purpose: The Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit in association with Rogers And Cowan at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on June 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Journalist Gretchen Carlson attends 'Persecuted' screening at Lighthouse International Theater on July 18, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Fox News Channel Host Gretchen Carlson speaks onstage during a 'Fireside Chat on Persecuted' at Variety's Purpose: The Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit in association with Rogers And Cowan at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on June 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

THE VIEW

Mindy Kaling and Gretchen Carlson were the guests, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 on ABC's 'The View.' '

(Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)

Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson attends the 2016 Miss America Competition at Boardwalk Hall Arena on September 13, 2015 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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Gretchen Carlson, Debra Shriver and Danielle Weisberg attend Hearst Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles Hosts the Hearst 100 Luncheon at Michael's on December 12, 2016 in New York City.

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Gretchen Carlson arrives for the Hearst 100 Luncheon at Michael's on December 12, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Gretchen Carlson attends Women at the Top: Female Empowerment in Media Panel at the 2016 Greenwich International Film Festival on June 12, 2016 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for GIFF)

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) TV commentator/author Gretchen Carlson visits Insight at SiriusXM Studios on April 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Editor-in-Chief of New York Magazine Adam Moss, Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping Jane Francisco, News anchor Gretchen Carlson, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of the Meredith Parents Network Liz Vaccariello, and Editor-in-Chief of People Magazine Jess Cagle attend the American Magazine Media Conference 2017 on February 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for American Magazine Media Conference)
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This stuff is still going on? Didn't sexual harassment end when Don Draper retired? I'm still amazed how, in 2017, the business world is still very much a man's world. Yet, it is. I've seen incidents over the years where men, especially when they get the chance to gather together, act like boys - and the women nearby are forced to ignore their behavior. Don't believe me?

Just this past week, a lawsuit was filed by the former director of social media for a Silicon Valley tech firm that accused the founders of allowing "rampant sexual behavior" that created an "unbearable environment" for female employees. Among the charges: men speaking freely (in graphic detail) of their sexual exploits while in the office, bosses evaluating the physical appearance of female employees and claims that the "the company set up a space, referred to as the 'kink room,' that contained a bed meant 'to encourage sexual intercourse in the workplace.'" What?

Oh, there's lots more. Just last month, a scandal erupted when a female engineer at Uber accused management of sexual harassment and HR complicity. There's also been many recent allegations of harassment, bias and discrimination against executives and managers at such high-profile firms like Google, Apple, Twitter and Oracle. By the way - this is what we know about because these firms make the news. Imagine how many unreported incidents are happening at companies all around the country that don't warrant media attention.

Oh yeah, it's all happening. It's all real. And, if you're a business owner or a CEO like me, it's our fault. Carlson is right: the tone really does come from the top. I get it; I'm a guy. We do guy stuff. We say stupid guy things. We know that when women are together, they say stupid women things too. We're humans and, underneath it all, we're essentially animals. But not in the workplace. Not in 2017. Things have evolved.

Camille Paglia, the noted feminist, has often said that women should take more responsibility for their actions, specifically pointing out here that "misled by the naive optimism and 'You go, girl!' boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature."

I get that. Savagery is amongst us. But men have a responsibility for their own behavior too. Especially in the workplace. No female should feel uncomfortable or unsafe during their job unless they're a fighter pilot or a wrestler. It's our responsibility, as business owners, to set this tone.

Carlson's message resonates. If you're a business owner or a CEO, don't think for a minute that you can delegate the problem to your HR department. If it's happening at your company, it's your fault.

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