And you thought that the “trickle down theory” was about economics. It appears that it also applies to sexual harassment in the workplace. Witness a new Fortune article.

Top-down Culture Of Zero Tolerance

In May I wroteFrom The Sexual Harassment Frontlines” that: “I have always advised that, along with proper training, a top-down culture of zero tolerance is important. It is a significant key to keeping the workplace free from sexual harassment.”

And last January I posted under my “Top Ten Tips – No Eleven – To Avoid Employment Discrimination Claims” the tip: “Respect and compliance in the workplace comes from the top down – be a good role model and exemplar of fairness and probity.”

People “Follow The Leader”

And regarding the settlement of an EEOC lawsuit where “a top-down culture of harassment was created by the manager, whose ‘lead role’ in sexually harassing female employees was dutifully followed by his male employees” I wrote that “Top down culture — very important to keep in mind that executives and managers can create a workplace free of harassment or can create a culture of harassment. It’s up to you. People, as well as ducks, tend to ‘follow the leader.’”

Can Sexual Harassment Trickle Down The Corporate Ladder?

Now comes an article in Fortune questioning how an operation such as Fox News could have accepted the alleged longstanding sexual harassment of its chairman, Roger Ailes. It concludes that what initially seemed to be one man’s acts was, likely, a “corporate culture of a large and powerful company.”

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Fear – this is what Fortune says the many experts it questioned said was the reason for this corporate culture: everyone feared Ailes.

Regarding Ailes’ behavior, one professor was quoted as saying about the Fox workplace that “I’m assuming that this has trickled down.”

So top down culture, where “executives and managers can create a workplace free of harassment or can create a culture of harassment,” can now be referred to as the “trickle down theory.”

Takeaway: I remind you of my previous tip: “Respect and compliance in the workplace comes from the top down – be a good role model and exemplar of fairness and probity.”