Our data shows that we've had a 32 per cent increase in complaints about sexual harassment this financial year, so far, compared to 2016–17.
Worryingly, many allegations of sexual harassment that we've been told about in the last few months have been more severe and of an ongoing nature.
We also receive calls from duty holder: employers, managers and HR personnel who want to know about preventative practice, their positive duty and what safeguards they can put in place.
We are at a watershed moment of change
It is our responsibility to act across government, organisations and within our communities to listen to victims and embed the real changes needed to stem this problem.
The culmination of the Women’s Marches, #MeToo and Times Up has shown the world that this problem affects women in every sphere of life – from elected members to part-time workers – in every industry.
What is powerful about this movement is its potential to connect women together, to recognise that they are not isolated in their experiences; that the sheer scale of the problem – across geographies, industries, class – shows that this is systemic.
And women will not put up with low-level sexism, harassment or assault in the course of simply going to work.
Organisations need to listen and respond to the problem, not only for the safety of their employees but the future of their business
Sexual harassment is against the law and employers have a duty of care to do everything they can to prevent it from happening – we have always known that, but what this moment is showing is that this is not just about mitigating your risk as an employer.
This is not about an online training course with no follow-up.
This is about showing leadership, to start conversations right from the top, and throughout your organisation.
This is about ensuring that you have a robust policy and complaints handling procedure in place that people know about and actually trust.
If you don’t you run the risk for the safety of your employees, and your business – good luck attracting leading female talent who now make up the majority of graduates. Let alone female customers who, as an increasingly brand-savvy population, actively consider how companies handle issues of gender and all forms of diversity and inclusion before parting with their cash.
The Commission can help – Know your responsibilities
If your organisation or workplace needs help with training, or setting up policies and complaint procedures we can help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have worked with organisations at every size to build and improve policies, processes, or to guide an entire organisational level of change.
The Commission can help – Know your rights
You have a right to do your job without being sexually harassed. There are no buts.
The Commission helps people to resolve complaints of sexual harassment by providing a free, impartial conciliation service.
At conciliation both people sit down and negotiate an agreed outcome – this might be an apology, equal opportunity training in the workplace, or a financial settlement.
You can also seek counselling or support from 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Mobile: 0459 114 657