Ever wondered if you should have a lawyer in your professional network? Your office may or may not have a law department and the stress word here is ‘criminal lawyers’. A safe and inclusive workplace remains a utopia because instances of sexual harassment in the workplace is still a problem. It affects both men and women, and those who seek redress face a long battle that often ends without justice.
It’s 2019 after all!
This might sound outlandish but the workplace is still a battlefield for respect. For instance, take into account a training presentation by Ernst & Young where women executives were urged to look fit and avoid talking to men face-to-face. It also said that women have smaller brains and all this happened at the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018 nonetheless.
Certainly, awareness is better now regarding workplace sexual harassment but that hasn’t lent to reduced instances of it. The fact remains that an organization’s reaction to such cases is often dictated by the persons involved and the cost to the company from pursuing such a case. It’s the financial risk that the company weighs against losing a key person, settling a sexual harassment suit, or salvaging the brand.
Why it still happens?
The attitude to workplace derogation and sexism is often categorized as light banter and jokes. Sexual harassment still finds victims because society has not deemed it as a serious problem. According to a 2018 annual survey by a charity supporting women, of the 4,010 participants, 15% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace while only 8% have gone on to report it. A worrying 18% are afraid of reporting such cases while 24% fear to lose their jobs.
Women are already bearing the brunt of the gender pay gap. Dealing with sexual harassment cases in their jobs interferes with financial productivity as well as emotional well-being. Factors like impact on professional reputation, reduced job options from prospective employers, and office gossip as a deterrent towards reporting against sexual harassment.
Don’t let it be
A big reason behind continued sexual harassment is non-reporting. This emboldens the perpetrators apart from them choosing soft targets who would cower and keep silent. However, it’s necessary to take certain preliminary actions:
- Compile a written account as soon as the incident happens with all particulars like time and date, relevant facts and event witnesses.
- Gather information about company policy and look for possible support from senior management.
- Contact the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s office for assistance.
- Find help from a legal counsel who can help you understand the intricacies of law and resolution options.
The continued prevalence of sexual harassment in this day and age is an anti-thesis to our achievements in human progress. The harrowing statistical figures where employees are still discriminated against and sexually harassed should rally employers, leaders, and recruiters to better the workplace.