California state Senate and Assembly lawmakers met to address allegations of pervasive sexual harassment for the first time Wednesday, unveiling this ambitious, time-consuming goal:
“Create something that I think will be the model for the whole country,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, the panel’s chair.
“And I think that everybody here deserves us taking the time to do that correctly and unapologetically,” Friedman said.
The joint panel comes after women in California politics demanded the Assembly and Senate respond together to allegations of a widespread, culture of sexual harassment at the state Capitol. An Assembly panel previously held one hearing in November.
USC expert on organizational behavior Janet Denhardt told lawmakers that’s a heavy lift that goes beyond creating new policies.
“You can change all of the formal procedures, you can change the structure. That won’t change anything until you change the underlying culture as well,” Denhardt said.
Two Democratic members of the state Assembly have resigned after harassment allegations, while a Senator has agreed to a leave of absence.
The Senate and Assembly have separately partnered with WEAVE, a Sacramento-based domestic violence and sexual assault crisis service, to create an anonymous hotline for reporting sexual assault or harassment claims.