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Gretchen Carlson Fortune Most Powerful Women 2017 Summit
“You
won’t be believed,” Gretchen Carlson (pictured) said at Fortune’s
Most Powerful Women (MPW) Summit.


Fortune
Most Powerful Women 2017 Summit



Former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson stunned the media
world
when she filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Fox News
chairman and CEO Roger Ailes
in 2016.

In her lawsuit, Carlson said Ailes repeatedly sexually harassed
her, and that she was fired from her job of 11 years for turning
down his sexual advances.

The lawsuit ultimately led to
Ailes’ resignation from the network
, which he had
ran since its founding in 1996, and Carlson
settled the suit
for a reported $20 million in 2016.

But Carlson did not walk away from the accusation unscathed.

On Wednesday at
Fortune’s Most Powerful Women (MPW) Summit
, the TV journalist
said she faced concentrated backlash on social media when she
came forward, and many people close to her distanced themselves.
“You find out who your friends are in a big way,” she said. “It
can be a very alone experience.”

Carlson also said that, for many people who confront sexual
harassment head on, the fallout can often be steep:

“First of all, if you do come forward, you’ll be labeled a
‘troublemaker’ or a ‘bitch.’ More importantly, you won’t be
believed. And, some people have even suggested that you do it for
money or fame.”

Carlson said it takes courage to put your career on the line and
report sexual harassment in the workplace.

“When you know that that’s the culture that we still live in …
it’s the most important decision of your life to dig deep for
that courage, to know that you might torpedo everything that
you’ve worked so hard for.”

Unsurprisingly, while one in three working women aged 18 to 34

surveyed by Cosmopolitan
said they have been sexually
harassed at work, 71% of these women said they did not report it.
Of those that did, only 15% said they felt the report was handled
fairly.

“Basically, the way we solve sexual harassment in society right
now is either to settle with women, which gags them from speaking
about the details, or we force them into mandatory arbitration
instead of an open court system where it’s completely secret,
which also gags them,” Carlson said.

More than 55% of workers are subject to mandatory arbitration in
the US, according to
the Economic Policy Institute’s survey of nonunion private-sector
employers
. This means that more than half of private-sector
employees in the US have signed an agreement with their employer
stating that, should they have a legal claim against them, they
are barred from taking their issue to court and must instead
handle the claim through the arbitration procedure designated in
the agreement.

For those who are considering reporting sexual harassment at
work, Carlson offered a handful of concrete tips from her
forthcoming book on the matter, “Be
Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back
:” document
everything you can, seek advice from an attorney, and talk to
trusted coworkers who could serve as witnesses.

While Carlson told the audience that “courage is not an overnight
experience — it takes time,” she also said that she is hopeful
that more women will feel empowered to have a voice.

“Look what’s happening. This time is now,” she said.

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