Set the behaviour bar high
A healthy workplace involves more than processes, training and safety checks. It needs people (employees, sub-contractors and apprentices) to set a high standard when it comes to respectful behaviours.
Knowing what’s acceptable
Workplaces are obligated to provide a safe work environment. Yet they should also be proactively preventing sexual harassment.
While legal definitions of sexual harassment may differ in each state and territory, according to Safe Work Australia, sexual harassment is considered unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances.
Of course, sexual harassment can take many forms – from an unwanted sexually explicit text message to an unwelcome hug or sexual joke. And while the behaviour may not be directed at you, it can still make your work environment uncomfortable.
The first step for all employees – including apprentices, subbies and even volunteers – is to understand what is considered inappropriate behaviour.
Sexual harassment can cause psychological and physical harm and it should not be ignored.
Source: Safe Work Australia
You have a role to play
The next step is to raise concerns about any sexual harassment behaviours you may experience or witness.
If you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right, call it out. If that’s not possible, find someone you can talk it through with, such as a manager, colleague or WHS rep.
Check your workplace policies for processes on how to report instances of sexual harassment, and how these will be dealt with. If you can’t find this information, talk to your supervisor.
And remember, if you’re a senior team member, make sure you actively role-model positive behaviours and encourage ongoing conversations about everyone’s role in setting the behaviour bar to the highest standards.
We can all do our bit to stay safe.
Find out more at Safe Work Australia.