20 Nov 2017

CU LAB: Responding to sexual harassment: how to change a culture

Hedy Cray outlines the importance of management involvement in reducing the incidence of sexual harassment within the workplace.

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As an employment practitioner I am concerned by the increase in the problems with sexual harassment complaints. One only has to look at the media to see the frequency by which we are continuing to deal with behaviours that are clearly unacceptable in the workplace.

Why is this? In circumstances where Australia has had prohibition on sexual harassment since the 1990s, isn't it a concern?

And as a practitioner, I can say that I see a constant theme and that theme is the degree to which management leads. The circumstances where the leadership team may have become aware of conduct that was unacceptable, but failed to act on it, is frequent, and these are things that are entirely avoidable. Workplaces and behaviour in the workplace are often the subject of much debate, however when leadership can intervene at an early stage, perhaps we can prevent that unacceptable behaviour deteriorating into a sexual harassment complaint.