Over a year since Weinstein, the start of #MeToo and hundreds of media headlines and press articles later, the workplace landscape has shifted.
While this has meant a greater awareness around what sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour is (see our recent survey results) for many, it has also meant a heightened nervousness around “getting it wrong” - particularly amongst men.
In the recent article in the Times Magazine “What men are really thinking,” one 55 year old commented “I can’t work women out any more. I was brought up to hold doors open, offer compliments and bus seats. Now it seems even these acts of kindness can be perceived as sexist.”
Issues around behaviour become amplified at this time of year with the slew of Christmas parties and client entertaining and many may well be feeling more confused about what’s OK at these events, than they were a year ago. The last thing we all want is for people to be withdrawing from social interaction out of fear.
So, what will help?
We need to reassure people that many things they would previously have done are still absolutely fine; holding open a door for someone is courteous and is not the same thing as expecting the one woman present at a meeting to make the coffee. Consensual flirting is fine. Not taking “No” for an answer isn’t. But the lines are not always clear.
What will help to dissipate the confusion and the worry about “getting it wrong” is for us all to talk about it.
We can’t draw up a definitive list of what’s OK and what’s not - this is a subjective area - but at least by surfacing the issues and talking through them, we can help to create an environment where people are more willing to check in with each other and prevent assumptions being made.
And then hopefully everyone can look forward to the Christmas party and the workplace in 2019 - rather than see them as a source of anxiety.
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For more information about how we can help you create a genuinely inclusive culture, where everyone feels comfortable and valued, call us for a confidential chat on 01903 732 782 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at our case studies.
Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...