This year has not been a good year for a few really wealthy powerful men who have systematically abused their position and power to sexually assault women.

First it was Harvey Weinstein. The number of women who came forward was astounding, the fact that many Hollywood heavyweights claimed they had no idea was equally baffling.

Next Ben Affleck came under fire as accusations were levelled at him. Then Louis CK, US Comedian was in the media facing sexual assault allegations from 5 women, including claims that he masturbated in front of women he worked with. Repeatedly. Nice one dude, then he tried to apologise publicly and it kind of failed.

Now our very own Don Burke, the guy I grew up watching on Burkes backyard is being crucified by the media as more and more women come forward. The allegations are frightening and disgusting. His pathetic attempt to defend himself in an interview with Tracy Grimshaw was just sad and insulting. So how big is this problem?

We all know its massive. This is not a problem limited to the US or Hollywood. This is a global problem and for all the progress in equal rights for men and women we all know its seems in vein. As HR professionals we have tried to implement protections and education but unfortunately sexual harassment training is seen as joke in most workplaces. The fact that most senior executive roles are occupied by men is probably a factor in this phenomenon.

Working in HR I have been exposed to countless examples of blatant sexual harassment and misconduct and in most cases victim shaming and blaming is still the order of the day. The male executives protect their own, and women are often get targeted as asking for it, or overreacting.

I have been the victim of sexual harassment on many occasions myself. The first time was when I was working in the Hospitality industry as a Marketing Manager and one of the duty managers shouted “Show the boys your tits” in a heaving bar on grand final day. It was humiliating and I felt extremely ashamed and embarrassed. I confronted him and his response was “Maybe you should wear a looser t-shirt next time.” So I complained to my Manager and he was reprimanded and then I was ostracised by all Duty Managers. I was an outcast and I left soon after.

So what can we do about it? Continue to speak up and call out inappropriate behaviour. Not just at work but anywhere we see it. On the train, in a nightclub, in restaurants, absolutely everywhere. Because all too often we don’t speak up, we accept that boys will be boys.

For organisations, its about defining what’s acceptable around here through a good policy, a great set of values and leadership from the top about how women should be treated by everyone.

If you need help with a policy or Diversity Training please contact us today.

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