Next, we consider Measure for Measure. In the age of #MeToothis play has taken on a renewed and frankly disturbing existence. Seeing the play in the past year was a much difference experience for me than the 20 years or so ago when I last saw it. Once again while there are comic elements, largely around the switching out of partners in a bedroom farce and a marriage proposal to end the play, there are some dark, indeed very dark, parts in the middle of the play. These include demeaning and the debasement of the female protagonist Isabel, leading to what modern day critics see as a rape scene of Isabel.
The basic plot line is the Duke of Vienna leaves town ostensibly on a diplomatic mission but, in reality, goes undercover to see how the city fairs in his absence from his appointed Judge, Angelo, who will lead a moral crackdown. Claudio get his fiancé pregnant and although ready, willing and able to do the right thing and marry her, Angelo condemns him to death. Claudio’s sister, who is about to join a convent, goes to Angelo to plead for his life. Angelo offers to spare her brother if she will cede her virginity to Angelo. She refuses and says she will report his conduct and then is one of the most chilling lines in all of Shakespeare “Who will believe thee, Isabel?”
Measure for Measure informs #MeToo. In Bloomberg Business Week article, “How to Clean Up a #MeToo Mess”, Mary Pilon, details the story of Cynthia Marshall, the new CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, who was brought in to the organization after the devastating Sports Illustrated article detailed both sexual harassment and sexual assault by Mavericks senior management upon female employees. Some of her advice:
- Own the mistake(s) but move forward. Cooperate with the investigators. Make clear there are new values and you are going to support them going forward.
- Create supportive communities for employees. No company’s employees want to be known as the bribery company or the cheaters. This can be a powerful tool to help unearth unethical or even illegal conduct.
- Make the new values clear.Continually drive home the message that unethical behavior will not be tolerated.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help, both inside and outside.If you need subject matter expertise, go get it. Use the talent inside your organization as well.
- Invest in talent. If there is talent that has not been brought forward do so now.
In this era of #MeToo, Measure for Measure may be more important than ever.
Tomorrow The Winter’s Tale.