Republican Governor Bruce Rauner presents his State of the State address in Springfield on Wednesday. Those who watch it might notice one color in particular being worn by many of those in attendance. We spoke with Chicago consultant and activist, Becky Carroll, about why:
OTWELL: Over 150 women and men who work in state government came together after the “Me Too” hashtag went viral this past fall to sign a letter saying they want to put an end to sexual harassment within their workplace. Becky Carroll, a strategist and consultant from Chicago, was one of those signers, and she's part of a group that emerged and organized itself online. It's called “Illinois, Say No More.”
CARROLL: We now have a Facebook page of about 700 women, women only. It’s being used in part to help promote the “Time's Up” movement in Springfield, but beyond that, it's continued to be a place where women can share their stories ... It's been a focal point for the ongoing discussion here in Illinois.
OTWELL: Since the Me Too hashtag became a social movement, focus has shifted to a new concept and phrase, Time’s Up. It’s what actors and activists communicated at the Golden Globes. Men wore lapel pins with the phrase, many in attendance work black. The idea will be taken on this week, on the same day as the State of the State address is given at the capitol by Governor Bruce Rauner. Carroll says legislators and others have vowed to participate.
CARROLL: There are pins and lapels being made up for men who are our allies. I also know many men, some of whom have reached out to me and others, asking if it would be OK if they wear black – absolutely. I think it’s meaningful to see that there are allies out there wanting to show their public support for women in particular, who have been impacted by sexual harassment ...
OTWELL: Carroll says the point of this plan is to show that at a state level, attention is still on the issue of sexism in the workplace and its manifestations that include sexual assault and harassment. While legislators draft proposals on the issue, and while they've started to go through mandated sexual harassment training, advocates say they don’t want this to be a trending topic that just loses popularity and fades away. Carroll says, while the Me Too movement is about giving voices to victims, Time's Up is about what's next.
CARROLL: Here in Illinois and across the country, women are embracing this concept. We just had a Time’s Up, wear all black day at Chicago City Council last week. Now women who work in and around Springfield and Illinois politics are doing the same. It sends another message that this issue is not going away and we expect not only for culture and behavior to change, but there's a full expectation that there will be more women at the table and leadership positions, whether it's staff, whether it's an elected office, or other positions to insure that women's voices are being included not only around this issue, but every issue that is impacting the state. Because when there are more women at the table, there will be an inherent change in behavior ... beyond, or maybe hand in hand, with the sexual harassment issue. It also extends beyond that - to making sure that women have a larger number of seats at the table so we can drive decision making that impacts our lives, and really does a greater good for society.