Harassment or office banter - where do you draw the line?

 

Earlier this month the SDA Newcastle Branch participated in a Young Workers Conference.

During the conference a report was released which found about half of young workers have experienced bullying or harassment on the job.

The stories of sexual harassment experienced by young women were appalling. They reveal that bullying and harassment are endemic in our workplaces and too often young workers feel powerless to speak up.

Interestingly, the report also found that almost one third of workplace bullying and harassment came from customers or clients.  This is a critical finding for service industries such as retail and fast food.

Much more needs to be done to educate workers – especially young, vulnerable workers – to combat the malignancy of sexual harassment in our workplaces.

But are we really surprised that young women (and men) often feel powerless to stand up to workplace harassment?

This month we also heard the taped (so-called ‘locker room’) conversations of a candidate for the highest office in the United States in which he made vulgar and sickening remarks about women.

Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.

And to make matters worse we had the newly elected Senator Pauline Hanson excusing his tawdry conduct and endorsing Trump.

These comments and attitudes normalise sexual harassment.  It is clear that our culture is sick to its rotten core when it condones and excuses this type of behaviour.

We have a long way to go.

Until all political leaders are prepared to take a strong stand against sexual harassment what hope do young workers have?

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