Leadership Dilemma – What I Would Do

Yesterday I wrote the article on the Liberal Democrats sexual harassment issue which has been in the press for the last few days, and I asked what would you do, how would you handle it?

Today I am going to respond to how I would look to deal with this. I have included yesterdays post beneath my response if you want to refresh yourself on what the dilemma is.

As I see it Nick Clegg now finds himself in a pretty tough no win situation.

Lord Rennan sexual harassment allegations have been investigated and the recommendation is that the no further action should be taken, although the witnesses were found to be credible.

The ladies who made the allegations are unhappy with the outcome of the review, which found it would be difficult to prove that he broke the law, and they are now threatening to resign, or in some cases have already resigned from the party.

Whatever Nick Clegg is going to do he is going to offend or upset one party or the others, although at the moment he seems to be in the worst situation which is offending and upsetting both parties.

If I were in the situation, which looks like a lose-lose scenario whichever course of action we choose, I think there is only one action to follow and thats to follow your conscience and do what you believe to be the right thing. If you’re going to be damned, at least be damned for something that you believe in.

Sexual harassment is something which should not be tolerated in any walk of life, and whilst there was not enough evidence to lead to a legal conviction, the witnesses were felt to be credible. And as Lord Rennard had been the CEO of Liberal Democrats I think he should have been much more conscious and sensitive in his behaviour, even if he only inadvertently offended the ladies, he should have known better.

He should have been a role model and clearly this wasn’t the case. So I would look to remove him from his position, after having taken legal device on the best way to do this.

I would apologise myself for the situation we find ourselves in, one where it seem thats the internal procedures were inadequate to deal with it, and as leader of the party it’s my responsibility to make sure that they are there.

I would initiate an immediate update of the policies to bring them in line with how the leading companies deal with sexual harassment so that we should be better placed going forward.

I would also make a clear statement, that I would be looking to ensure that the Liberal Party was a role model in these areas.

As the leader we are responsible for the culture of our organisations, and if we want to have one that is seen as modern, a safe environment for everyone where they feel respected and treated as equals, then we need to be the ones to set that tone.

Whilst I would probably be criticised for taking this action, especially when the investigation found no further action to be needed, but I’d would rather be criticised for something I felt strongly about.

As leaders people need to know what we stand for, and then they can choose to follow us or not, based on those principles.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.


Yesterday Post

I have been reading in the press, and listening on TV and radio, about the sexual harassment case that has been happening within the Liberal Party.

I am not 100% clear on all the facts, and I doubt that anyone will ever be, but I was very interested in the dilemma that Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Party – and Deputy Prime Minister, now finds himself in, and I wondered how I would deal with it.

I will post my thoughts tomorrow, but before I did that I wanted to see and hear what other people think. I am not asking whether you believe there was a case of sexual harassment or not, but how would you now handle the fall out, and how would you move the party forward and with unity.

The situation is that Lord Rennard, a key member of the Liberal Party, was accused by 4 women members of the Liberal Party of sexual harassment. Lord Rennards membership was suspended whilst an investigation was carried out. The investigation found that, although the claims were credible, it would be impossible to prove them in court and that no further action should be taken.

There person carrying out the investigation said that Lord Rennard should at least apologise to the women, which is what they were looking for from him.

This was the peers response to that:

The peer regretted “any hurt, embarrassment or upset” he had inadvertently caused anyone. But he said: “I will not offer an apology to the four complainants. I do not believe people should be forced to say what they know they should not say, or do not mean.”

He accused the Liberal Democrat leadership of treating him unfairly and said the party should have let the matter rest when an internal investigation by Alistair Webster QC concluded “no further action” was necessary. Full article

The complication here is that:

Whilst this cannot be proven in court, i.e. he wouldn’t have been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, if this had been in a company I am pretty sure that HR would have come out in favour of the women, and that Lord Rennards position would be untenable.

However, the finding was ‘no further action should be taken‘ and because of this outcome Lord Rennard has been reinstated, which is an extremely unsatisfactory to the ladies involved.

This is now causing a major rift within the Liberal Party, of which only 11% are female, and many have either resigned or are threatening to resign and Nick Cleggs leadership is being called into question ahead of next years General Election.

So the question is what would you do?

The claim has been made,
the investigation has come back with no further action to be taken,
the claimants are now unhappy with the outcome and for more action and are looking to leave party if they don’t get it,
the parties internal policies seem inadequate to handle this situation,
the defendant refuses to offer a full apology, i.e. plead guilty to something he doesn’t believe he did, nor could it be proven that he did it.

There are many supporters, male and female, on both sides, and this issue has the potential to significantly weaken the parties already declining position, before next years election?

I am not asking whether you believe the claims are true or not, but what would you do to repair your leadership and try and heal this rift which threatens to tear the party apart?

I think it is a very interesting dilemma.

If you side with the peer you will alienate the women within the party, if you side with the peer you could find yourself facing legal actions as your own parties ruling was no further action need.

Let me know your thoughts I would be very interested to hear them.