After the initial sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein were released, I shared (albeit briefly) my own experience of being subjected to the abuse of power in the workplace on my personal instagram.
I was overwhelmed by the response.
Since then the sheer amount of similar experiences and shared accounts of those that have been on the receiving end of quite frankly, appalling behaviour – that have more often than not witnessed the perpetrators get away with it, has been shocking. The hashtag #metoo has been widely utilised across social media platforms and has certainly brought a sense of solidarity to those that have previously been too scared or too ashamed to come forward.
There must be nothing worse than feeling that not only were you the victim of harassment, bullying, verbal or physical abuse in the workplace, but that you also feel unsupported and very much alone.
From my own experience, and from information I have gathered since the Weinstein story broke, I have gathered together some advice that I hope you will find useful.
What To Do If You Are Being Sexually Harassed Or Bullied At Work
1. Record everything. EVERYTHING. As much evidence as possible is key, be it emails, text messages or verbal communications – keep copies and write down exact times and dates of what happened, what was said and when. Keep your calendar up to date so that your whereabouts (if required/relevant) matches up with the accused and take note of any witnesses or others within the business that may be aware of the accused’s actions against you.
2. Confide in a trusted friend or colleague, as I mentioned above, being alone during an experience such as this is not conducive to you having the confidence to speak out.
3. If you are not already a member of a trade union join one. This will make your issue a collective one.
4. Put a grievance in writing to Human Resources outlining what has happened to you and when. There should be information on your company intranet/literature as to how to make an official complaint. If there isn’t then speak to your line manager and request they source the procedures for you and advise what the exact protocol is.
5. Easier said than done I know but please please don’t ever feel that comments of a sexual nature or actions that make you feel uncomfortable or simply not safe in your place of work can be excused as harmless “banter”. Or that anyone who feels they are able to take advantage of your humour or good nature as an excuse to make inappropriate jokes at your expense is allowed to simply because they are in a managerial position, or because other colleagues seemingly think they are hilarious. Being made to feel upset or angry is not ok. And you have every right to ensure it stops immediately.
As I began writing this feature I was listening to the radio in the background. Apparently it has been discovered that several female researchers and aides to Members of Parliament within Whitehall and Westminster have recently reported various cases of wholly inappropriate conduct towards them from Ministers. Theresa May has said that “serious action” will be taken against those whom are proved guilty of the allegations.
Have you ever been harassed at work? Have you felt unable to come forward due to the fear of not being believed or the risk of potentially losing your job?
I sincerely hope that by capitalising on the current media coverage and aforementioned sense of solidarity, that this is the time to harness real change.
A position of power does not give anyone the perceived right to behave like a complete and utter arsehole towards others. They deserve to be appropriately punished. And we deserve the right to work in a safe and non predatory environment.