Time's up on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace | PerformHR

The black dress protest, #MeToo and Time’s Up. It’s a movement gaining strength about taking a stand against sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. You’ve heard about it non-stop in the media, but #MeToo is not just for Hollywood. Offenders of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace are being outed publicly and it’s already making waves closer to home.

We’ve seen two high profile Australian entertainment professionals (you know who they are) accused of unthinkable workplace behaviour. We have seen Lisa Wilkinson quit her job highlighting gross pay inequality at her workplace. The spotlight is currently on the entertainment industry, but with the #MeToo and Time’s Up army behind it, we will see a rise of people speaking up in other industries.

In Australia, we know that sex discrimination including sexual harassment (unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature) is unlawful. And we know that while a person who sexually harasses is primarily responsible, employers can be held responsible for acts of sexual harassment committed by their employees. But is it really about what is lawful or not anymore?

In 2018 and beyond, let’s shift our focus to identifying what is right and wrong. We need to create a workplace culture that protects our employees and we need to become, in the words of Oprah Winfrey, ‘the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again.’

The time is now to take a good look in the mirror and reflect on your company’s culture and processes and how that encourages or discourages a zero-tolerance and anti-harassment workplace.

It’s confronting, but ask yourself these questions to help you reflect:

  • Will anyone be saying #MeToo in your workplace?
  • Do you have a culture of zero tolerance and that encourages reporting?
  • What are you doing to protect your employees from sexual harassment in your workplace?

So, what can you do to help prevent sexual harassment in your workplace?

 

  • Communicate to employees the reasons why a zero-tolerance to sexual harassment is so important to protecting employees welfare;
  • Train employees on how to recognise sexual harassment and what to do if they experience or witness sexual harassment, highlighting the important role of bystanders;
  • Put in place a process for dealing with complaints;
  • Consistently reinforce the message to maintain the zero-tolerance culture.

If you need support to take the lead on ensuring nobody ever needs to say “me too” in your workplace, give our experienced team a call today.

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