March 5, 2018

In wake of #MeToo movement, Purdue professor says companies should take action

Ellen Ernst Kossek Ellen Ernst Kossek
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The #MeToo social media movement, which exposed the prevalence of sexual assault and gender discrimination in the workplace, should serve as a call to action among companies in the United States, says a professor in the Krannert School of Management

Since last year, numerous prominent actors, business executives, politicians and other men in leadership roles have been accused of sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct. While the movement has brought fresh attention to the issue, the struggle faced by women in the workforce has been researched for decades, says Ellen Ernst Kossek, Purdue University’s Basil S. Turner Professor of Management and research director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence

But most U.S. employers have failed to make improvements in their policies and procedures, Kossek says. She calls this discrepancy the research-to-practice gap.

“Gender and diversity have been hot issues in the media for several decades, but much progress remains to be made in creating more inclusive cultures,” she says. “If you get women into companies and policies aren’t improved, those employees are going to leave. That’s expensive to society, it’s costly to families and it’s costly to individuals when they undergo discrimination. It’s a waste of money.”

Kossek is a leading researcher on work-life balance and achieving gender equality and inclusion in the workplace. She is the organizer of an upcoming three-day conference at Purdue called “Breaking Bias: Leadership Excellence and Gender in Organizations Conference,” the theme of which is “Bridging the Research to Practice Gap.” The conference will feature speakers from companies leading the way in diversity and inclusion, including Amazon, Roche and McKinsey & Company, as well as renowned scholars from Stanford and Villanova universities and Simmons College.

“The research-to-practice gap is a real problem in many areas of society, particularly when it comes to diversity and gender discrimination,” Kossek says. “We’re trying to address problems, identify evidence-based solutions and have an open dialogue between scholars and employers – something that is, unfortunately, too infrequently done.”

For more information about the Breaking Bias conference, visit

Writer: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541, 

Source: Ellen Kossek, 765-494-6852,

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