Board oversight of workplace conduct in the #metoo era

September 2018

Over the last year, there has been a steady drumbeat of allegations of workplace sexual misconduct against dozens of prominent figures from media, politics, and business. A wide range of companies have seen top executives resign in the face of such allegations, with CBS CEO Les Moonves being a prominent recent example. For public companies, the consequences of sexual-misconduct allegations can be severe, and not just for the individuals charged with misconduct. The allegations against Harvey Weinstein, for example, led to the collapse of the Weinstein company, which filed for bankruptcy in early 2018.1 In 2017 and 2018, the shareholders of Signet Jewelers, Twenty-First Century Fox, Liberty Tax, and Wynn Resorts filed lawsuits against corporate directors and officers at those firms related to allegations of sexual misconduct.

In this context, boards are assessing their oversight of workplace culture and their role in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct. On July 19, Lead Director Network (LDN) members were joined by Wick Sollers and Sally Yates, partners in King & Spalding’s special matters and government investigations practice, for a discussion on the board’s role in overseeing matters of workplace sexual misconduct in the context of the #metoo movement.

This ViewPoints synthesizes that discussion. A companion ViewPoints synthesizes another discussion held at the meeting related to the board’s engagement with institutional investors.