MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When she filed suit against her former employer, Fox News, in the summer on 2016, Anoka native Gretchen Carlson had no idea what her future looked like. The anchorwoman sued the late Roger Ailes alleging harassment and retaliation.
In really an unprecedented move, Fox settled and released a statement saying:
“We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
A lot has changed not only for Carlson since then, but for women in the workplace. Carlson was in town earlier this winter for two different leadership seminars.
Since leaving Fox she released a book called “Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back.” It’s how she is using her own experiences to take a lead in the #MeToo movement that makes her a Minnesotan to Meet.
You’ve seen the headlines. However, the number of women who have come forward to allege sexual harassment in the workplace whether it be Hollywood, the entertainment industry, or Corporate America is something Gretchen Carlson never anticipated.
“When I dove off the cliff there was no #MeToo, there was no Golden Globes protests, it was such a lonely experience, but when I see all the women come forward, wow then I know what I did made a difference,” said Gretchen Carlson.
Since publishing her book, Carlson teamed up with “All In Together” for her Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative.
“I really look at it as a cultural revolution and I could have never predicted it,” said Carlson.
With a recent stop in the Twin Cities this yearlong program is designed to bring leadership and advocacy training to underserved women with a special focus on empowering women who have experienced gender-based violence, discrimination, or harassment.
Carlson isn’t just focusing on leading women, but men too.
“Sexual harassment predominantly isn’t a women’s problem it’s a man’s problem and we need them to help us fix it,” she said.
The mother of two says that needs to start at a young age.
“It’s really important to continue empowering young women, but I actually think it’s more important to empower young men,” she said while we caught up with her in between speaking engagements. “We have to focus on how we raise our sons more than our daughters.”
Carlson says she believes the tipping point will be when more men find the courage to speak up.
“When a women speaks up she’s bossy, when a man speaks up he’s assertive. We need to be very careful in those subtle cues on how we are raising our sons,” she said.
The Anoka native is convinced her upbringing shaped her strong values.
Carlson calls bringing her kids back to Minnesota every year a high priority.
“I talk up Minnesota all the time. I call it my Midwestern sensibilities. My husband I believe it is the most important thing we can teach our children,” she said.
The former Miss America 1989 is hoping to use her “Minnesota nice” attitude as she takes on her latest role as Chairwoman of Miss America’s board of directors.
“If there’s been one thing consistent with me all my life, if there’s a challenge I usually go for it,” she said. “I really look at bringing Miss America into more relevancy. We already have a great foundation but we need to improve our messaging.”
Carlson says she plans to make some “major changes” to the Miss America organization to make it relevant for 2018 and beyond and bring it into this century. Her first order of business will be recruiting a board.