The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce unveiled a series of seminars it will host in the coming year in coordination with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault in an effort to end workplace sexual harassment. The announcement comes in the wake of a December NJ Advance Media report highlighting several incidents against female attendees at the annual Walk to Washington, and in New Jersey politics more broadly.
“Our dialogue started by exploring how the State Chamber can be a leader in improving the culture at conferences like our Walk to Washington and make them safer and more welcoming for all,” Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Bracken said Tuesday in a statement.
At least one of the seminars will be offered to senior business executives in the state – at no cost to them – before the annual Walk starts on Feb. 27, the chamber announced Tuesday, and more sessions will be introduced over the year.
“Business leaders are in powerful positions to initiate change,” Bracken added. “The goal is straightforward. There is no place for sexual harassment anywhere. Let’s work together and fight harassment everywhere. The fight starts with our own workplaces.”
The chamber unveiled a series of changes over a month ago to stymie sexual harassment at its annual event following The Star-Ledger’s report—among them a ban on hard alcohol on the train.
Other changes for the annual affair include beefed up security at events, easier access for attendees to report sexual harassment, more intense training for chamber staff, and an updated code of conduct explicitly stating the Chamber’s expectations of professional conduct, which has already been distributed to the organization’s members and registrants for the 2020 Walk.
Legislative leadership and Gov. Phil Murphy have expressed skepticism on whether the changes would be enough.
Late last month, a new committee featuring 11 of the state’s most prominent women in politics from both the public and private sector announced that it wants other women to come forward with their own experiences of sexual assault, harassment and misogyny during their time in New Jersey politics.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District, who is spearheading the committee, said that its main goal is to put an end to the “toxic” culture of misogyny facing women in the state’s political landscape.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 12:29 p.m. EST on Feb. 5, 2020. A previous version of this article stated that the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce planned to publish a code of conduct to distribute to attendees of the annual Walk to Washington event. That was incorrect. The new code of conduct was published in January and has already been distributed to chamber members and registrants for the 2020 event.l