Employers have the to maintain a workplace free of sexual assault. Not only is this a legal obligation, and good for business, but sexual assault spreads like a cancer. People start thinking it’s ok. You will pay a toll in employee morale, productivity, and non-stop lawsuits.
I’ve been reading about the Largest sexual harassment cases. These cases are perfect examples of sexual assault where the accusers are afraid to make themselves known.
Retaliation is a major concern. If you talk to your supervisor, which is often your abuser, you won’t get far. Under no circumstances should reprisals be allowed. In a large business this could eventually be established. But in small businesses where the owner is also the manager, you have no chance having your voice heard.
#MeToo has changed the landscape of sexual abuse. While it was accepted as illegal, it never became taboo like it is today. Workplace sexual harassment is pervasive. This can be the opportunity for us all to finally change how things are done. The way Covid allowed us to revolutionize social medicine, so does #Metoo allow us to change the workplace. It’s a cataclysmic event that was horrible but will lead to meaningful, good change.
As we hear about high profile men being accused, there has been a cultural shift. It’s not just in the workplace. It’s in everything. You can watch the news, a movie, or a television show, and these act as almost sexual harassment seminars. People now know instinctively to report any sexual harassment.
C. Brady Wilson, PhD, a psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, says, Companies still have a knee-jerk reaction to sexual harassment complaints, but it’s the coworkers and culture that is allowing us to attack this problem head on.
How to spot sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment starts with subtle action—it could be a comment, invitation, a “harmless” touch. But it always escalates. People get bold when. Victims accept it because it’s just a little bit more. Eventually the line is crossed, and you’ve been assaulted.
RAIN gives us a list of what’s considered sexual harassment.
- The abuser makes sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly, a way to advance in the company.
- Any unwanted touching.
- Any requests for sexual favors.
- Any courtship or sexual advances.
- Discussing anything of a sexual nature. Even if it’s just a reference to a body part. It doesn’t matter if it is a joke.
- Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
- Exposing of a body part normally clothed in an office environment.
- Unwanted sexually-based photos, emails, or text messages.
What to do when sexually harassed:
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, The New York Times give us a great guide on what to do. They say you need to Document everything, Assess the situation, Take action.
You can read more about it here:
NYTimes – What to do if you are sexually harassed.
The courts system has always been the one to decide on how business handle harassment. Rates of sexual harassment hasn’t changed for decades. Training sessions don’t work. Harsh laws don’t work. What works is a cultural shift where everyone knows about sexual harassment and everyone is ready to act on it. This is a change that will come from the bottom up. I, for one, have high hopes that we can eradicate sexual harassment in the work place once and for all.