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Sexual harassment – why people who witness it don’t report it, and why we really need to

Hot off the back of a settlement in the DJs sexual harassment case, incidences of sexual harassment are still alarmingly common across all industries. Whether you go by the stories you’ve been unofficially told or from the stats, the rate of women being made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace is way too high.  With only 16% of harassments being reported, the time has come to report a colleague if you see them harassing another co-worker.

There are reasons why many witnesses to sexual harassment don’t report it –this blog explains the reasons; not wanting to take sides, being afraid of potential career damage, especially if the perpetrator is more senior or even just that they don’t find the misconduct personally offensive. A survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 50% of witnesses did not complain because they feared negative impact on themselves, or didn’t think it was serious enough. Sizable groups also lacked faith in the process, or dealt with the issue themselves.

Not only is sexual harassment a serious issue, it’s also symptomatic of a work environment that isn’t serious about being a great place for working women, or creating a professional environment for them to excel in. If you witness something, ask the victim if they are ok with it. Ask them again to be sure you’ve heard, and ask them if they want you to do something about it.

For more information on ways to raise the issue, click here.

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