Sexual Harassment Training Has Never Been More Relevant
Sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace are being talked about more than ever before, due to recent revelations about everyone from MPs through to media moguls and people in the media industry.
This means that this hot topic will be on many people’s lips and while it is important to encourage debate in the workplace it is also important to avoid misinformation from spreading.
The topic can also be quite antagonistic, while your workplace may indeed be free from sexual harassment it is important that colleagues don’t get upset by discussion that happens, as far as possible in normal circumstances.
Your colleagues may themselves have been sexually harassed, victimised or assaulted in the past and heated hypothetical ‘debates’ could be very upsetting or them, and no one should feel forced to reveal past experiences.
Therefore there has never been a better time to bring this up, in a controlled and considerate manner. If you are going to hold training on the issue consider the following questions:
What is sexual harassment
The nature of what constitutes sexual harassment may be the subject of much debate but the law is pretty clear in the UK and is defined as: unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:
- violates your dignity
- makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
- creates a hostile or offensive environment
It is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 according to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and can include:
- Acts that can be considered sexual harassment include but are not limited to: sexual comments or jokes
- physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault
- displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature
- sending emails with a sexual content
It is important to note someone is protected whether they reject or submit to the harassment.
When might it happen?
One of the common threads that has run through the allegations made in recent weeks is that all of the industries affected, politics, the media, the entertainment industry, can be are characterised by transient, contract work in which demand outstrips supply.
In many cases this has led to a power dynamic in which sexual harassment has proved common, yet frequently unchallenged. However, sexual harassment can be experienced anywhere and in any industry.
It is important to note that while the majority of reported cases involve men harassing women, it is also possible for people of any identifying gender to harass anyone else, and that male on male harassment may be under reported.
What is rape culture?
One of the problems addressing sexual harassment is so-called ‘rape culture’. This means that people can tend to victim blame, be dismissive or otherwise reject the idea of any wrong doing when someone has been sexually harassed or assaulted. It is important for people in a work place to explore how the culture in which we live may have contributed to their reactions of allegations in the workplace, and decide how fair they are as a result of this.