When the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein hit the headlines in 2017, a revolution was triggered. The spotlight was thrown not just on incidences of harassment and assault in Hollywood, but in every industry. At our leading London recruitment agency, we strongly believe that staff should never be subjected to harassment, so today we’ll explore what to do if you’re experiencing harassment in the workplace.
What is “harassment”?
In the Equality Act, 2010, harassment is defined as “unwanted or unwelcome behaviour which is meant to or has the effect of either violating your dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.” This can involve unwanted advances from another employee, the spreading of malicious rumours, or criticising someone deliberately with the intention of undermining them. A Trades Union Congress report in 2016 discovered that as many as 52% of women in the UK had experienced sexual harassment in some form. However, four out of five women didn’t report this harassment to their employer.
What changed in 2017?
Several months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many Hollywood celebrities joined forces to create the “Time’s Up” movement, which aims to combat the “systematic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential.” Not only does it aim to improve laws, corporate policies, and employment agreements, but it will enable both women and men to access the correct avenues to hold wrongdoers to account.
What should you do if you’re being harassed?
If you find yourself experiencing harassment or sexual assault at work, or you generally feel uncomfortable with someone’s behaviour in the workplace, it’s essential that you record what happened and when, so a formal report can be made. You’ll need to include the time, location, and circumstances, and whether anyone was around to witness the incident. It’s a good idea to find out more about company policies surrounding harassment and equal opportunities.
Who should you report it to?
Once you’ve collected sufficient evidence, you can go to your HR department to file an official report. Your employer has a legal responsibility to stop harassment in all forms at work. HR should take reasonable steps to investigate what happened and act appropriately. Whilst your complaint is being investigated, you should record all actions taken by your employer, so you can track its progress.
Are there other avenues?
Some workplaces don’t have a HR department, but this doesn’t mean complaints can’t be made. If your company doesn’t have one, or you find your HR department unhelpful, other resources are available to ensure accountability. These include the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). Both are there to provide advice, information, and support at difficult times.
Time to speak up
With only one in five women reporting harassment in the workplace, it’s time to speak up instead of suffering in silence. Whether you work in top London PA jobs, client-facing receptionist jobs, office support jobs, or something else, you should not have to put up with being harassed at work. Hopefully, this article has helped you see that you’re not alone, as there is process to report inappropriate behaviour at work, and resources available to you.
For more advice on workplace issues, stay tuned to the Love Success recruitment agency blog.
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