Too often victims of harassment and bullying are unable to speak up, and witnesses remain silent.
The results of the fourth National Survey on Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces may surprise some people, but not others. Either way, for too many people, harassment and bullying at work still occur.
Too often victims are unable to speak up, and witnesses remain silent.
If you see something, speak up.
I have previously written about some of the incidents I observed in my early career as a woman working onsite in a mining job. Back then I didn’t write about the times I experienced harassment but I believe it is important to do so now.
Stand up to workplace bullying and harassment
Back then, as a twentysomething working on a mine site laboratory — where the only other women were in different departments, a long way from the process plant — speaking up was not easy. But I did and, luckily, I was believed. Once I had spoken up, several other people (men included) felt confident enough to come forward with the bullying and intimidation they had been subjected to by the same individual.
This was in the early 90s and companies were still catching up to the changes in the Discrimination Act of 1984. The company I worked for was well ahead in complying with the changes and undertook a full investigation and subsequent action.
I learnt a valuable lesson back then: there is strength in numbers. What’s more, it is highly likely that you are not the only one being subjected to harassment, bullying or intimidating behaviour.
Workplaces have come a long way since then — including the Australian mining industry — with hugely improved organisational policies, effective processes in place for individuals to make reports confidentially, Employee Assistance Programs and greater awareness and understanding around the impact harassment can have.
But based on these figures below, it seems there is still a way to go.
4 alarming statistics from the sexual harassment survey
- 72% of Australians have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives
- 40% of people in mining reported being sexually harassed at work in the past five years
- 40% of workplace sexual harassment incidents were witnessed by at least one other person, yet in 69% of the cases, the witness did not intervene
- 17% of people who experienced harassment made a formal complaint.
We all need to work together to ensure everyone can feel safe in their workplace. We need to call people out on their behaviours and we need to challenge our organisations if they aren’t taking action to change behaviours.
In the mining industry in Australia it is standard and widely accepted practice not to ignore a hazard. As an industry, let’s make a standard that we will not be a silent witness to harassment and bullying.