Most weeks here at Travis Schultz & Partners include work on a disappointingly high number of workplace bullying and sexual harassment cases.
For obvious reasons, I’m not able to write about the detail of these, but the stories at the heart are a stark reminder for me that despite all the sexual, racial and industrial rights movements in our modern ‘Oh but haven’t we come so far, love’ world, there are still too many women (and men) who continue to suffer debilitating abuse in the workplace.
There’s a terrible statistic from 2019 that shows one in every nine workers reported being bullied at work.
Australian bullying prevention organisation Bully Zero crunched the numbers on this workplace issue, and reported that one in three women and one in five men with mental health disorders cite bullying and harassment as the main reason for their ill health, and that in 85% of bullying cases, peers are present as onlookers.
But it’s not just a case of getting picked on, whilst doing your job. It’s a case of being irreparably changed by these forces during daily interactions with a superior or work colleague who knocks the wind out of your sails; reduces your fervour for your chosen career to an overwhelming anxiety that impairs your capacity to do your job, and ultimately, leaves you broken.
I’m saddened by the stories I hear from claimants who have bravely sought to do something to put a stop to this behaviour. It’s a disheartening indictment on the so-called true blue, good bloke/good sheila, white, blue or no collar Australian work culture that we are bringing these matters before courts in the year 2020. It is just not acceptable that inappropriate behaviour has become common place, enabling cultural norms that have allowed these to be someone’s story in 2020 and that there are established workplaces where sexual harassment, bullying and even misogyny still exist or even thrive.
Organisational culture should not be about diversity targets, policies or gender equality until we can have the honest discussions required to proclaim zero tolerance of poor behaviour.
Workplaces need to normalise behaviours that are consistent with the values and beliefs centred around basic humanity, respect and equality for one and all.
No-one should have to turn up to work feeling scared and anxious of colleagues before they clock on.
There’s a terrifying statistic that domestically in Australia, one woman dies at the hands of her partner every week. If we as a population can join campaigns to stand up and oppose violence against women and their children, surely making women feel safe at work has to be part of the cultural shift as well?
And fellas, this has to start with us. We have to get over the idea that discussing how women are treated in the workplace is confrontational or accusatory. The fact of the matter is, that a vast majority of workplace bullying and sexual harassment claims are brought by women against men.
Since 2017, the #metoo movement has given voice to those who suffered due to the insidious prejudices that have at times perpetuated an organisational patriarchy. Now it’s time for us men to drive that momentum for the required cultural shift. We need to call out the misogynists, bullies and chauvinists and embed new values around gender equality in each generation and every organisation. And maybe then, we will start to see some of those terrible statistics come down. Because the mental health of all workers, matters.
We had our eyes opened by #metoo. Now it’s time for #wetoo.
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