This article first appeared in The Alt on July 5, 2018.
Women who feel unsafe and who are facing harassment in their workplace can seek help from Beekman 1802, the Sharon Springs-based lifestyle company and mercantile.
Josh Kilmer-Purcell, one half of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, is happy to see powerful women stand against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace but he knew there was another group of women whose stories were not being heard, who couldn’t risk sharing their experiences publically.
“At the same time as these high-powered executives and famous actresses were speaking out there is this other group of women in rural America who are trapped. It felt like it went right to the top and skipped everyone else,” Kilmer-Purcell said.
Purcell started considering what the next step might be for the #MeToo movement. What he came up with is called “#Metoostep2”. It’s designed to address two issues for women living and working in small towns who need help getting out of a hostile work environment.
“Women can reach out to us without fear of giving out their name. They can utilize our HR services. Secondly, we offer employment and hiring priority to women who are trapped in a situation they need to get out of,” said Kilmer-Purcell.
Anyone wishing for Beekman’s help can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purcell notes that most rural businesses don’t have HR departments and many women who work and live in small towns can’t afford to quit their jobs because employment opportunities are so limited.
Kilmer-Purcell said that his mother experienced being stuck in a job she couldn’t escape. “My mother was a single mother in a small town south of Albany. She worked in a small sporting goods store and she had to make a friend accompany her to the stockroom in the basement to make sure the other guys didn’t follow her downstairs to harass her,” said Purcell.
Heather Sadlemire, director of marketing and e-commerce for Beekman, says that she feels many companies just don’t realize what kind of environment they provide for women. “I think most women have experienced harassment in the workplace. It’s just rampant. I personally have felt threatened at a place of employment and feared for my job security.”
Sadlemire says she’s found a feeling of safety at Beekman. “This is the first time in my career that I’ve been treated with the utmost respect by my male colleagues as a female. I don’t think some men realize just how far out of bounds men are with women in their professional life.”
The folks at Beekman 1802 know they can’t take the issue on alone. They’re asking other “safe” companies to declare themselves part of the movement and offer their HR resources and hiring priority in a similar fashion. Kilmer-Purcell says he’d love to partner or collaborate with other local companies to offer more help and other employment opportunities.