Prevention is always the best way to deter sexual harassment
I have a saying “If you don’t get in the car and drive, you cannot be accused of drink driving”. Be aware of how you act towards your colleagues, supervisors., Don’t gossip about personal problems of your own or another employer. It can be taken out of context, and many colleagues do not keep conversations confidential, the same goes for Facebook and other social media. A friend today, can be your enemy tomorrow. This article may be accused of overstating the problem, but given the amount of enquires we get i don’t think i can overstate how careful you should be in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can also be claimed by anybody you come in contact in the workplace, including, contract personal or delivery drivers. visiting customers. It is best to keep any risky. sexualized jokes or innuendo completely out of the workplace. This
Keep your work life and personal life separate. There are some things you may not want to share with your coworkers or employers. It is fine to mention events and activities about your personal life at work. However, sharing how drunk you got at your cousins wedding or how you got away with shoplifting when you were younger are not things you should share at work. Connotations about how good your new boyfriend is, etc. only start taking conversations and actions where you never intended to go.
You might have a good life and want you share your experiences etc. with other, but other people may not, jealousy can be a issue, we see it all the time, others clearly can have different values to you, you open up, and just want to take advantage of you. There is never a problem, until there is a problem.
Confront the behaviour before it gets out of line. Make clear and simple statements. Use a steady and firm voice, but do not berate or attack because than you can be accused of harassment or escalating the situation.
- You are not funny, why you saying this?
- Stop degrading me. Women are not objects.
- I don’t want you to do that.
- When I say No/Stop I mean it.
- Don’t go there, Leave my space.
Does ignoring harassment or these behaviors make it stop? Avoiding your colleague , denying that anything bad is happening or ignoring harassment will not stop it. You are not the problem, so by doing nothing or pretending it isn’t happening is not a solution. The problem is with the individual or group that is out of line. Confronting it early, leave no room for error, its shows, you know when you personal space is invaded, you know you have rights, send that clear message.
Neutralize the situation. Ask other colleagues how it makes them feel. This a restorative justice approach, Start a discussion with your colleagues who feel harassed or uncomfortable. If you feel ganged up on or are arguing in circles it is time to end the conversation and step away.
Get together with your fellow employees to present a united front to end the harassment, bullying, the inappropriate behaviour. Inform the perpetrators that you will not tolerate sexist behavior. In a non-threatening way, explain to your harasser(s), your supervisor, or the authorities within the company with details of the harmful actions. You have a right to work in an environment that does not include sexual jokes or anti-woman attitudes. You should not go to work feeling sad, anxious, and going home that night feeling even worse.
Deal with Difficult or Persistent People. Oftentimes confronting the instigators of these behaviors causes them to go on the defensive. Be aware of these retorts to your complaint.
- I was only joking, why can’t you take a joke? You need to get a life.
- You are being overly sensitive. What’s your problem?
- Oh you are one of those “feminist” women.
- You can’t tell me what to do. I was just trying to be nice.
- You are such a prude. You have taken it out of context
- Your behaving like a feminist? Do you hate men?
- Just because you don’t like to have fun doesn’t mean the rest of us have to suffer.
Retorts like the ones listed above are aggravating and are said with the intent to embarrass you or make you second guess your complaint. They are not valid, but rather immature and mean spirited. You can reply with the following retorts.
- It’s not a joke if it makes other people feel bad.
- Just because you have a limited sense of humor doesn’t mean I can’t take a joke.
- I am not being sensitive. You are being rude.
- Feminism is simply a movement that says women are equal to men. Why do you feel so insecure towards that idea?
- I am not telling you what to do. I am asking you to be respectful at work. You can say whatever you like on your own time.
- Being a prude has nothing to do with it. I do not like what you are saying/doing and I am asking you to stop because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Would you like it if I made jokes about the size of your private parts or intelligence?
- Calling someone a lesbian or man hater is not a good comeback. We are not in elementary school anymore. You have the choice to act like an adult.
- I do not appreciate that you are trying to make me into the bad guy here. I am simply expressing my discomfort at your negative attitude towards women/ homosexuals/ sexual jokes.
If your perpetuator continues to argue or refuses to stop their actions you need to speak to a supervisor. Take it to Human Resources, take it to somebody, the actions offend you, demonstrate your taking action, keep notes, dates, who, times etc.
Practice. Young women are not often taught how to directly stand up against verbal abusers.
I have found this to be one of the easiest reasons for men and other women to take advantage of them.
Practicing the art of calmly fighting back in a safe environment will give them an idea of how it feels to be outspoken. At this time I would like to have the students stand up and take turns practicing these or coming up with their own non-threatening responses.
We at A Whole New Approach P/L are not sexual harassment lawyers, we the nation’s leading workplace advisors, we have been representing employees in sexual harassment claims since 2004. Any Fair work Commission matters regards respect@work issues, stop sexual harassment orders, adverse action, general protection claims give us a call, its free 1800 333 666. We work in all states including Victoria, NSW, QLD, cites, including Melbourne, Sydney.
but is so true, no one can take your self respect from you, unless you let them, we are here for you.
Staff work at A Whole New Approach p/l, because they care, not because they are paid.
One of the nations leading workplace advisors, representatives and commentators. Gary has represented some 12,000 clients over some 20 plus years, published some 300 plus articles. Gary has been pursuing sexual harassment claims since 2004, now having lodged in excess of a 1,000. He is passionate about employees rights and the test of fairness in the workplace. Have a problem, concern, confidential discussion, call him directly.