It’s been said all the recent discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace should open some eyes.
We hope it has and that it will continue to do so. But we are also more than a little frustrated about why it is necessary.
When somewhere between one in two and one in three working women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, it should be common knowledge. Because if you haven’t experienced it, you have probably seen it.
A common theme that runs through our entire #Me Too at work series is how predatory behaviour grows bold where no checks are in place to nip it in the bud.
It’s what can escalate someone from ‘dick’ to dangerous.
An entire generation is currently being schooled in the art of neutering a bully by standing together, pointing out the behaviour, and firmly saying it will not be tolerated.
Sexual harassment is bullying, plain and simple — and workplaces need to stand together and do the same.
When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up. Empower your co-workers by showing your support when you hear them speaking up. Or speak up for them. When somebody makes an inappropriate comment, don’t laugh, point it out. When someone feels threatened tell them you will stand with them.
There is strength in numbers. Every bully understands that. By remaining part of a silent majority you are basically lining up on the side of the bully.
And the schools have it right; start early. For every parent who sat their daughter down for a lesson on how to protect herself, how many have taken their sons aside and demanded they treat women in a respectful way? Maybe some “boys will be boys” because they have never been taught differently.
Some have suggested #MeToo has made it too easy to confuse an offer, or some harmless fun, with harassment. Or that men will be cutting off their professional relationships with women in some form of self-defence.
That seems like an overreaction.
Remember, harassment is not a sex thing, it is a power thing. A woman can laugh at off-colour comments just as much as a man can, as long as she believes they are equals and there is no threat.
All anyone is asking for is a workplace where someone can comfortably say ‘please stop,’ and that ‘no’ is respected.
Stand together and make it happen.
— The Me Too At Work team