Motivated by recent events in the United States, the University of Delaware’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) has created a new webinar series, Advocacy, Allyship and Accompliceship. By tapping into expertise from around the world, the goal of these webinars is to empower attendees to offer sustainable solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems. The first expert to join the series is prize-winning New York Times Investigative Journalist and best-selling Author Jodi Kantor.
In this webinar on Friday, Oct. 9, Kantor will discuss Advocating for Women’s Rights. Kantor’s work for the New York Times includes work includes breaking the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse allegations. Kantor and her colleague Megan Twohey have published a book on Oct. 1 about the Weinstein investigation and sexual harassment entitled She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. This book will be adapted into a film by Plan B Entertainment, the makers of Selma and Moonlight.
In advance of the Advocacy, Allyship and Accompliceship webinar on Oct. 9, Kantor answered questions from UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics about her work.
Q: Your work in investigative journalism has helped inspire the #MeToo movement and has brought greater awareness to issues of gender imbalance and abuses of power across industries. What obstacles did you face in pursuing these stories and why was it so important to you to bring these stories to light when you did?
Kantor: We did face some formidable obstacles in pursuing this story. Some of the women we most wanted to speak with were legally prohibited from talking to us about their own experiences, because they had signed secret settlements with Weinstein. He tried to stop our reporting by using dodgy spies– private Israeli ex military intelligence agents who had a bounty on our story (if they could stop publication, they’d get hundreds of thousands of dollars.) Because of Weinstein’s power and political connections, many people feared speaking with us. Cynicism was a problem too: many people thought nothing would change. But none of this was a match for the bravery of our sources, who took considerable personal risks to bring the truth to light.
Q: What can the average person do to begin to bring change to advance gender equity and shift corporate cultures towards a safer and more equitable society?
Kantor: I’m a journalist, not an activist, so it’s not my place to make recommendations or advocate for particular policies. But you can’t solve a problem you can’t see. With the Weinstein reporting– and a wave of similar reporting across the paper and the world– we helped make the problem, and the pattern, visible. This wasn’t only about identifying predators; it was also about looking at the structures and systems that help keep this sort of behavior protected. Now it’s up to all of us, collectively, to figure out how to address these issues.
“Trying times call for strong leadership that can offer hope, build community and see new possibilities,” said Wendy Smith, co-founder and academic director of the WLI and UD professor of managment. “Strong leadership need not only come from the top of our institutions. We all have the need to address our discomfort and fear and the power to step in and offer solutions at this moment of crisis.”
WLI launched its inaugural webinar series, Leadership In Times of Crisis, which provided skills for effective leadership at a time when leading self and others took on extraordinary importance.
The schedule for the Advocacy, Allyship and Accompliceship webinar series, including the first webinar featuring Kantor, is as follows:
Friday, Oct. 9, 9-10:30 a.m. ET – Advocating for Women’s Rights
– Jodi Kantor, Pulitzer Prize-Winning NY Times Journalist, Author of She Said and The Obamas
Friday, Oct. 23, 9-10:30 a.m. ET – Cultivating Male Allyship
– Dave Smith, Associate Professor at the Naval War College, co-author of Good Guys and Athena Rising
– Brad Johnson, Professor, U.S. Naval Academy & Faculty Associate, Johns Hopkins University, co-author of Good Guys and Athena Rising
Friday, Nov. 6, 9-10:30 a.m. ET – Building Allyship with People of Color
– Lew Sherr, Chief Revenue Officer of the US Tennis Association
– Christine Larsen, Independent Member of the Board of Directors at CIBC
– Paula Glover, President and CEO of American Association of Blacks in Energy
Friday, Nov. 20, 9-10:30 a.m. ET – Advocating for LGBTQ Rights
– Sarah McBride, Candidate for Delaware State Senate
– Stacie Rinker, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, M&T Bank
– Devin Brymer, UD Class of 2022 and President, Lavender Programming Board
Friday, Dec. 4, 9-10:30 a.m. ET – Women as Allies in the Board Room
– Carter Franke, Chair of the Board of Directors at Sallie Mae
– Doneene Damon, President and Director Richards, Layton and Finger, P.A.