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Volume 27 No. 35
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Bold Conversations About Gender, Diversity In The Time’s Up Era

Kydd Lee (c) said that she is hopeful about the future as more people become aware of these issues
Photo: Tony Florez

The issues of gender and diversity took center stage in a “bold conversation” with three female CAA executives on Day 1 of the ’18 CAA World Congress of Sports. The panelists noted that attendees may not be used to talking about these topics at a sports conference, but that given the breadth and scope of the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movements it’s a conversation that everyone should be involved with. CAA agent Christy Haubegger said the issues of exclusion and lack of opportunity are found across industries and that these movements are working to eliminate those problems and create safer, more productive work environments. She said the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which has already raised some $20M in just its first six weeks, is a part of that. “We fundamentally believe everyone needs fair and safe workplaces,” she said, “but everyone can’t do it because they may need a lawyer. Now there’s a place they can go. We’ve had thousands of people inquire about resources.” Haubegger recalled one story that illustrated the circumstances they are working to change: “We’ve heard from a woman at a nuclear power plant and she’s being aggressively sexually harassed. She’s charged with our safety and she doesn’t feel safe herself.”

WORKING TOGETHER: CAA Chief Innovation Officer Michelle Kydd Lee said the “intersectional group of women on stage” did not have all the answers, either, and told the audience we’re in this together. She said she is hopeful about the future as more people become aware of these issues, adding, “This is an awkward conversation to have between genders, but that’s okay when we have a higher calling -- a safer place for all of us.” These movements began in entertainment, exploded last fall in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein and others in that industry. Haubegger explained to the audience the nuances of the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movements: “MeToo is the notion of being hurt in some way by sexual violence, sexual abuse to sexual harassment. TIME’S UP is a movement that’s about addressing the issues at the workplace so no one has to say ‘me, too.’” CAA Exec Lisa Joseph Metelus says women in sports are also coming together to support each other. “I have a group of women outside CAA in the business,” she said. “We always thought it was important to create a community of women to support each other. We launched during (NBA) All-Star weekend here in L.A.” Twenty years from now, Metelus said she hopes to be able to say, “We were part of a community that created safe, fair, dignified workplaces for all.” But, she said, “This is the infancy of the movement. We’d love to have as much help as possible because this is about creating a better world for all of us.”

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES: All three women said executives and employees can each effect change within their organizations. “We can decide on who’s hired, who gets to come to the meeting. Use your power in the things you can influence,” Metelus said, adding, “Each of us has a role to play, whether having a brunch or in hiring decisions.” Haubegger said, “We focus on a small number of people who do these bad things, but all of us can do something in the places we’re in. A big part of inclusion is not saying we need a woman of color or a woman at the table, it’s about putting the right people at the table. I never feel like I’m at the table because a box has been checked.” Metelus: “Talent is distributed, opportunities are not.” Lee looked out at the audience and addressed the women looking on: “If you’re sitting out there, this seat (on stage) is ready for you.”