The more people that take action when they experience workplace sexual harassment, or witness it happening to someone else, the less likely it is to continue in a particular workplace.
Harassers are not doing it for the thrill of getting caught. They do it because they expect to get away with it.
Sexual harassment is massively underreported
There are many reasons for this underreporting, but many can be classed as a lack of knowledge.
A victim does not understand that what is happening to them is illegal
Maybe the chef has always grabbed the waitresses’ backsides in a particular kitchen. That does not mean they should have or can continue to. Yet often it needs someone to call it out for what it is – illegal sexual harassment – to put a stop to it.
Not knowing how to report it, or who to report it to
Employers should give you a range of options to report it, to ensure you feel comfortable doing so if needed.
They fear reporting it will risk their job
Yes, you might lose your job or face other retaliation for reporting harassment, but your employer is not allowed to do this. You have legal options if they do.
They think that no one will believe them
It is true that bosses don’t always believe a person has suffered sexual harassment. Or they cannot believe that the person accused of doing it (who they thought they knew well) would do such a thing. But if they do not take appropriate action, there are other legal options to pursue.
It can take a lot of courage to speak up if you see or experience sexual harassment at work. Understanding the legal support available can give you the confidence to proceed.