Originally posted on Agency Iceberg on the 1st of April 2016. 

Whether implied or overt, sexual remarks or advances at work from clients, colleagues or even managers are completely inappropriate and you have every right to record and report any scenario where you do not feel safe or uneasy.

Regardless of whether a boss, a client or any senior or junior staff member behaves this way towards you, it is  inappropriate and not something to tolerate or accept as any part of your work.

Being harassed is about power. Feeling powerless is not what you need to deal with the injustices taking place. Get your power back by gathering your facts and know you are not alone.

Here is what to do if this happens to you or a friend:

1. Use your voice. Be strong, clear and assertive and say in clear words: “that makes me uncomfortable when you do that. Please stop now”. Assert your boundaries and let them know what they are doing is inappropriate.

2. Grab your notebook. Record the incident, what was said, as well as the response from the person you just asked to stop. Record any one who may have witnessed it should they be needed to give evidence later. It is important to keep records of these incidents because you may see a pattern build up, or the perpetrator may have a few similar reports against them. You could be one of many people this has happened to.

3. Email what you have written down to a leader in the business that you trust. If you have no one in your business that you trust – email it to a private email address you have for yourself, or your parents, partner or best friend.

If it stops, and an apology was given, you have record of it should you need it in the future.

If it doesn’t stop, you need to escalate this.

When you are ready, make an appointment with your HR chief or CEO. Let them know you would like to discuss a sensitive issue. In that meeting, make sure you let them know if you are too uncomfortable to work closely with that person.

If your CEO is the person making the advances, or you are given less than a supportive response in that meeting, consult a lawyer immediately.

The important thing to remember is that you never ask for it and there is never a reason you should be blamed for it.

Further resources:

Womens Legal Service or Job Watch – free and confidential advice.
LegalAid and Australian Human Rights Commission – know your rights.

A starting point for legal representation Slater &Gordon – no win no fee lawyers.

Contact the Agency Iceberg team on the understanding that all information is taken seriously and 100% confidential. They are very supportive and are advocates for safe workplaces. This is a good place to start if you are not sure what to do next. anna@agencyiceberg.com.au

If you need to talk to someone about this and don’t have a mentor: please get in touch with me at bec@becbrideson.com and I can guide you.