I once worked in a male dominated office. Overall it was an enriching experience but I unfortunately experienced some awkward situations with a sometimes over amorous boss. He would often make lewd remarks and insinuate situations of a sexual nature. I wasn’t sure how to approach the situation. He was a partner in the company and while I was just the little receptionist. In the end, nothing ever came of that scenario and I quit the job to travel but it is always something that remained with me. I often wonder if I should have handled it better and by not highlighting it had I done a disservice to the girl who preceded me in my position.
Sexual harassment is absolutely unacceptable. No one should ever go to work and feel uncomfortable at the hands of another staff member. Harassment covers a wide range of occurrences, from inappropriate emails, comments and gestures to actual unwanted physical contact. It is important that as soon as an event happens that you report it to another staff member or manager. If you feel that it might be a situation that can be handled directly with the perpetrator this might be the first avenue to go down. Sometimes a person might be causing uncomfortableness to another without even realising. An instance where this could occur is by sending a distasteful joke in an email. While many of us might not mind such behaviour some can find it to be in incredibly poor taste. Be extremely mindful of your audience and your conduct when forwarding on humorous emails at work. They could very well be taken up in the manner that they were not intended. You could find yourself in very hot water.
At workplace behaviour training recently, a real life occurrence was discussed. A famous case some years ago involved a female employee and the accused, her manager. She was unsuccessful for a promotion and shortly after she reported her boss for sexually harassing her. An external body was brought into the company to investigate the situation and through discussions with staff members they built a picture of what actually happened. The truth was a much distorted version of the events reported by the female. Certainly, staff members concurred that the manager behaved inappropriately towards the employee. On one occasion they recalled where he entered the office space, dropped to the floor and crawled up behind the female and put his head under her skirt. This was an event that occurred and was completely in line with the female’s version of the story. What she failed to mention was that according to the other staff in the office she wholeheartedly reciprocated the flirtation and sexual innuendos with the manager. She once flashed her chest at him at the staff Christmas party. The result of this investigation was that both employer and employee were sacked.
It is not only important to report any unwarranted behaviour towards you but also to be careful about the manner in which you conduct yourself. Work situations are very different to personal ones, so it is imperative that your behaviour is in line with your audience. Maybe you and your mates indulge in some banter of a sexual nature but this type of attitude is simply not work appropriate. Measures to Take Always report behaviour that makes you uncomfortable. If you find yourself in a situation where the harassment is consistent, try to document any incident. This is valuable if the company requires an investigation to be carried out. Be firm with the instigator. Tell them that their behaviour will not be accepted and that they will be reported. Main thing is to never ever suffer in silence. A problem shared is as they say a problem halved.