As I read more about the harassment and abuse Harvey Weinstein has caused over many years in the States, it’s a stark reminder that women are being systemically harassed and intimidated in workplace’s all over the world regardless of age, fame, seniority or competence. If Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow – arguably two very strong confident women, kept quiet about their own harassment experiences, we know many many others will have experienced the same and similarly kept it to themselves.
As an HR Consulting firm, we recruit people into organisations and coach them and their leaders how to engage with others. This involves ensuring we recruit people into roles who are going to add value to our clients. As a diversity recruiter, we place a high percentage of women, many into male dominated industries such as engineering and construction. We hope those we place will be psychological safe in their new work home. But how do we know this is going to be the case? As far as I know, we have never had a conversation such as “Hey, will the person we place into this role be safe or is their manager likely to feel them up or try and get them into bed?” We acknowledge we have a duty of care to ensure we enable them to make the best job choice for their career, but we have never asked this type of question and if we did I wonder would our clients give us a truthful response?
When we talk about diversity and inclusion, worrying about equal pay and promotional opportunities can come second and third to thinking about ‘how do I keep my job, and keep this lecherous man away from me without offending him and getting him offside?’, especially if the lech is your boss or someone in a position of influence.
Amongst my peer group and including me, we have all worked with men who sexually harassed us at work. Some of us were better at handling this than others. None of us however reported it. This has to stop, we need both men and women to call this insidious behaviour out. Maybe a Weinstein movement is afoot…… if it encourages both genders to call out in appropriate behaviour, I’m all for it.
Written by June Parker.