business, feminism

Sexual Harassment at Work


In light of current news, the hashtag MeToo has taken our social media feeds by storm. It takes only a couple of seconds to realize that #Metoo is an echo chamber of solidarity for those who have been sexually harassed. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of these voices are women, and even worse, I can’t imagine anyone is surprised.  

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The hashtag has been used previously for similar causes, but not in the magnitude we began seeing Sunday 16th. The recent events with Harvey Weinstein  coupled with allegations against America’s President have lead to over 100k uses of the tag. That’s thousands of people participating in a conversation literally overnight!

Sexual Harassment at Work

As an advocate for women in business, I wanted to highlight some important points about harassment in the work place. First off, it’s important to understand the definition of sexual harassment.

Secondly, harassment is more about power than it is about sex. The victims are often left feeling guilty, embarrassed, and/or helpless. In an older but very relevant New York Times article, the author details instances of sexual harassment in the workplace and outlines how victims are effected. Both the physical and mental consequences can be overwhelming. 

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ALL genders get harassed, but Women are disproportionately the victims of assault. Additionally, they are more likely to get sexually harassed when working in a field that’s traditionally male dominated. Rainn cites thats 12% of survivors were working while they were attacked. Our attitudes, company culture, and willingness to advocate for respect for everyone, all play a part in this.

So what can we do as managers, coworkers, employees?

  • It’s incredibly important to foster an environment of respect. If you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable, you have every right to stand up for yourself and/or someone else
  • Talk to someone you trust. If you can’t talk to your boss- find someone else who will listen and help advocate for you
  • There is power in numbers. If there is a known issue in your workplace, try addressing it with a group. 
  • Educate yourself not only about your company policies but those of your state
  • If someone expresses that you make them feel uncomfortable: respect them and stop whatever it is that you’re doing
  • Respect personal space and cultural boundaries. 
  • Provide and attend relevant training

Lastly, it’s amazing that women are coming forward regarding their experiences with these current public figures, and it’s amazing that the media is receptive to it. I hope that this is more than a hashtag and that people will be legally held accountable. However, not every victim’s voice is acknowledged and not every perpetrator takes responsibility. If you’re interested in learning more, there are additional resources and ways to show support. 

As always thanks for taking the to read. Feel free to leave additional ideas in the comments. 

Resources:

Know Your Rights (AAUW)    US News: 6 things to know about sexual harassment 

Find Law  Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace   Feminist.org

 What do Psychologists Say About Sexual Harassment    RAINN

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