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David A. Katz and Laura McIntosh. Courtesy photos

As the #MeToo movement continues to make itself felt in all facets of American life, public company boards of directors that are newly focused on the issue of workplace harassment have seen corporate responses evolve. In recent months, many boards have overseen the addition of anti-harassment policies to corporate codes of conduct, the establishment of procedures for addressing allegations, and the enhancement of employee training at all levels. Directors are taking proactive steps toward educating themselves and looking deeply into the issues involved, and many have highlighted it as a priority for the senior management team. Boards that have successfully installed the nuts and bolts of good governance in this area can now step back and consider the larger project of gender equality in corporate America, in which sexual harassment, corporate culture, gender pay equity, and gender diversity are related issues. Shareholder activity in all four of these areas—which we will call collectively, “corporate equality”—has markedly increased, and boards looking ahead to the next phase of corporate governance activism should take note of this trend and try to be proactive as opposed to reactive.

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