Closing The Gap

Marie Claire's Anne Fulenwider on men and #MeToo: Don't 'be afraid of the uncomfortable conversations'

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Marie Claire's editor-in-chief on what Barack Obama taught her about...

As editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine, Anne Fulenwider is aware of the media's responsibility in today's #MeToo era.

Last fall, she and her staff teamed up with Esquire magazine for a collaborative conversation around sexual harassment and assault. In a package called "Sex, Lies and Human Resources," the two publications discussed ways in which both men and women can address these common workplace issues.

When putting together the feature, released in February, Fulenwider says she had a series of meetings with Esquire's male staff and was surprised to see how afraid a lot of the men were to even talk about the topic.

Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider
Photo courtesy of Matt Winkelmeyer

"That was really a wake up call for us," she tells CNBC Make It. "You know, we talk about these things all the time at Marie Claire. Most women, I think, have kind of known about this for a long time, but to see the way the men were reacting to the news stories was really illuminating to me."

She says the conversations made her understand that there needs to be a more inclusive dialogue around not just the #MeToo movement, but other issues that are linked to gender inequality and discrimination.

"I think it's really important that in all of these conversations, not just around the #MeToo movement, but around the equal pay movement and the search to find more female CEOs, that we include men," she said. "This is not something that women can fix on their own."

Fulenwider says that following the downfall of many powerful men, she's seen how some male colleagues are now afraid to work with women. In a Facebook post earlier this year, Sheryl Sandberg addressed this fear that some men now have and emphasized how isolating women in the workplace is far from a solution to the problem.

"If men think that the way to address workplace sexual harassment is to avoid one-on-one time with female colleagues – including meetings, coffee breaks and all the interactions that help us work together effectively – it will be a huge setback for women," she writes.

Fulenwider agrees, and explains says that in order for us to move forward, we have to be inclusive of everyone.

"What I learned from working with Esquire in the fall of 2017, when a lot of these issues were really heated, is to listen and to ask questions," she said. "And to not be afraid of the uncomfortable conversations."

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

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