"We all knew about it! We. All. Knew," Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre, said of the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the film and theater industries.
People felt that, as long as it was not happening in their rehearsal rooms or their theaters, they weren't responsible, she told The Guardian. "I just can't believe that we've all colluded," she said.
Allegations of sexual abuse by top executives are rarely a surprise to those who work for or with them. So why does it take a newspaper investigation or a small number of brave individuals to uncover what so many on the inside already knew?
First, complaining is like leaping off a cliff on your first sky dive. Once done, there is no going back. And the risks of it going wrong are huge. Those who complain are usually, at best, ignored. Otherwise, they are often crushed by the superior force of the organization's lawyers and drummed out of the industry.
In many years of talking to whistleblowers and complainants about corporate abuse, I have not met any who emerged undamaged. The problem with my skydiving analogy is that skydivers have a far higher chance of landing unscathed.
And sexual abuse is only one aspect of organizational harassment. There are other ways managers misuse their power, such as systematic bullying and victimization.
When people do speak up, organizations usually fail to respond or hit back at the complainants, alleging, for example, that their performance has been poor.