Earlier this week I called for leaders in organisations across Australia to step up and take a stand against sexual harassment in their workplace using #NotOnMyWatch.
Doing so does not mean that your conduct as a leader, bystander or the culture of your organisation has at all times been beyond reproach. Rather, since having heard women across Australia and felt the seismic shift of the women’s movement, from this point forward, you, as a front line leader in any organisation — large or small — will not tolerate sexual harassment on your watch.
A seemingly simple ask. A requirement mandated by law for more than 40 years. A requirement most organisations and leaders commit to in their very own policies and procedures.
Yet publicly, silence. Crickets.
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I tend to swing from cynic to utopian.
Between practice as a corporate employment lawyer to advocate for diverse, healthy, respectful and inclusive workplaces, I know organisations have all types. When you look behind the curtain as we do, I understand the challenges of managing fallible humans.
But enough is enough.
This call for a pledge is not helped by our Prime Minister’s veiled threat in a press conference this week that people in “glass houses” should not throw stones, after which he called out sexual harassment that he claimed occurred in a journalist’s own workplace (but which has since been denied). Who dared asked the next question?
What I am asking for you, as a leader, to pledge #NotOnMyWatch and:
- not shrug off, laugh off or walk past anything that constitutes sexual harassment in your workplace;
- speak up against and report sexual harassment that occurs on your watch; and
- investigate and, if substantiated, discipline and exit perpetrators of sexual harassment regardless of their clients, relationships, public profile, revenue, technical skills, perceived brilliance or commercial value.
A pledge, to not tolerate unlawful sexual harassment on your watch. Period.
We cannot fix the past. We can’t fix what’s been done or not been done. We can’t rewrite history and the standards as leaders we have walked past, or wish we did not walk past before. But the time has come to take a stand.
We must stand up and make a more positive statement about what we commit to and won’t tolerate for our future.
We must be prepared to put our names to the commitment and our personal brands behind it.
Silence allows the failings of our system, toxic workplace cultures, sexual harassment and the dysfunction that ensures to perpetuate.
This can’t be the standard we are prepared to walk past as leaders. This can’t be what we want for our country, for our organisations, our workplaces, our teams, our people, our children.
This article was first published on LinkedIn. This content is general commentary and opinion of the writer provided for information and interest only.