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We need to set the tone and lead from the top. With this in mind, here is an example of some things we should never say or accept from others:
- A bullying and harassment policy should be enough to deal with sexual harassment.
- We have low report rates of sexual harassment, so it’s not a problem at this organisation.
- We have a reporting hotline which is well publicised, but we don’t get many calls about sexual harassment, so it’s not an issue here.
- I have been in this industry for decades and I have never seen it, so it mustn’t be happening.
- That’s the remit of our HR team. If there was ever a big issue, they would escalate it to us.
- Our staff engagement scores are terrific and there is no indication of there being a sexual harassment problem here. That means we’re doing enough.
Most cultural issues aren’t hiding in plain sight. Often it’s the things that aren’t being talked about that we need to be concerned about. Research tells us that sexual harassment is common and that it’s significantly under reported. We need to be proactive to prevent sexual harassment, and not wait for a complaint before we act.
We need to ensure our people feel safe to come forward and report instances of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. The only way they’ll do this is if they can see that leadership takes this issue seriously.
Can I suggest we create a board paper for the next meeting to outline how we plan to do this?