Sexual harassment should be treated as a workplace health and safety issue, says a new report developed by a coalition of over 270 CEOs and board-level leaders.
Disrupting the system – preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace by the Male Champions of Change, provides insights, practical actions and resources that aim to disrupt the system on how sexual harassment is managed in the workplace.
The report, which takes a strong and ambitious approach to the problem, has been welcomed by Engineers Australia CEO, Dr Bronwyn Evans HonFIEAust CPEng EngExec FTSE.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe and supported in their workplace, but that’s sadly not the case,” said Dr Evans.
“You only need to look to the number of high-profile cases in the media now to know that that the current approaches to tackling sexual harassment are not working. We need to be honest, and we need to be bold, if we are to create truly safe environments for our employees.”
The Male Champions of Change have developed the report over the past two years, inspired by the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.
They argue that the prevention of sexual harassment should be a key accountability for boards, CEOs and executive teams, similar to their occupational health and safety responsibilities. It also recommends people who experience sexual harassment be able to tell their story, in their own words, if and when they choose to.
The Champions of Change, of which Engineers Australia is a consulting member, call for changes in the management and reporting of sexual harassment cases - particularly when cases involve senior people who hold positions of power. The group recommends that proven cases will not result in a quiet departure with a healthy pay-out, and that leaders will not prioritise power, position and financial performance over the health, safety and well-being of their staff.
“The goals of the report – prevention, early intervention and a significant reduction in the number of impacted people – are achievable. This is an issue of workplace health and safety and we leaders must make it a priority,” said Dr Evans.