Many of you would have seen the #MeToo campaign trending on Twitter and Facebook. The campaign has seen thousands of brave women sharing their stories of sexual harassment, highlighting just how disturbingly prevalent it is. !(
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Having experienced sexual harassment first-hand, I am extremely passionate about raising awareness about this topic to help eradicate it. It was also one of my main reasons for starting DCC Jobs back in early 2015.
As I contemplated joining the campaign on Twitter, I suddenly felt overwhelmed as a realisation hit me. So many incidences occurred throughout the past 10 years, that I didn’t know which one to even begin with.
While DCC’s main focus is to connect women to employers which are truly supportive, I feel it’s important for me to also share what I’ve personally been through. My intention is for women experiencing the same to have the confidence to speak up and for those who witness this behaviour to step in and stop it.
Firstly, it’s important to be explicit on exactly what sexual harassment is as it can take many different forms. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, sexual harassment can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.
Sexual harassment may include:
- Staring or leering
- Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching
- Suggestive comments or jokes
- Insults or taunts of a sexual nature
- Intrusive questions or statements about your private life
- Displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature
- Sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
- Inappropriate advances on social networking sites
- Accessing sexually explicit internet sites
- Requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
- Behaviour that may also be considered to be an offense under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
Below are just _some _of the sexual harassment incidents I have experienced in the workplace:
In my early 20’s, it was my first week in a new job at a large IT&T company, we had a team day at a Bowls Club. In front of a large crowd, one of my new male peers said, “you have beautiful big blue eyes”, to which another much older male peer remarked, “yeah and beautiful big boobs”.
At the same company, a male colleague started sending me unwelcome, sexually explicit text messages. I reported this to Human Resources who said they would look into it. The male colleague said his phone was “hacked” (which was obviously a lie). The messages continued for another month, as did my complaints to HR, who still did nothing. The text messages finally stopped when my partner at the time stepped in and told the perpetrator to leave me alone.
During a boat trip with customers, one of the customers pulled his pants down in front of me.
In early 2015, during a meeting with a potential investor for DCC Jobs, I was asked if I would like to get a hotel room with him while I was pitching my business idea.
Writing this down, I’m filled with both anger and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. No-one should ever have to be faced with any type of sexual harassment or discrimination and the above doesn’t even scratch the surface of my experiences.
The sad reality is, that these things will continue to happen, however to me, it comes down to the following (at work):
If a victim reports such incidents against a co-worker, will they be taken seriously and action taken against the perpetrator?
If a customer/client sexually harasses a vendor, is the vendor expected to still do business with that client or will the company make a stand and refuse to work with them?
If you feel you have been sexually harassed, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Complaints must be made in writing or by email. This can be done by downloading a complaints form or completing the online complaint form.
I encourage you to share your experiences in the comments section below or on Twitter using #MeToo. The more voices that speak up, the more we are demonstrating this behaviour is completely unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
About the Author
Gemma Lloyd is an award-winning entrepreneur. Gemma co-founded DCC Jobs, served on two not-for-profit boards within IT and established another not-for-profit organisation for Diversity & Inclusion Professionals.
In 2017, Gemma was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Awards 2017 in two categories (For Purpose and Young Business Woman) and in 2016 won WIT Entrepreneur of the Year.
Also in 2017, DCC Jobs won the Victorian Innovation Minister's Diversity Award, Tech Diversity Award Winner in Media, in 2016, won the #Techdiversity Award in the Leaders in Advertising category and was a finalist in the 2015 ARN Women in ICT Awards in the Innovation category.
Gemma has provided expert commentary, delivered keynote speeches and sat on panels for media including ABC's "The Drum", Channel 7 Today Tonight show, Sky Business News and ABC Radio.
Learn more about Gemma here.
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