Let us start by defining it, what is sexual harassment?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a horrible boss and a sexual harasser.
And does it mean that there is no sexual harassment happening in your operations just because there are no statistics of it, or none reported? Do victims even know they are sexually harassed?
Take this example:
· The boss always smiles in a flirtatious way at his subordinate, and to be friendly, she smiles back.
· The boss and the subordinate act serious in front of their other colleagues, so there is a serious aura in the room, and the other workers may not understand what is going on.
· But when things do not go right, and the victimizer’s expectations are not met, the boss and the subordinate start arguing out of the blue and the boss always has the upper hand of noticing all the wrong things that the subordinate does, or he makes up things to destroy her reputation. The victimizer is normally good at being right at all times.
· The unaware victim feels like she is only trying to be friendly, to join the boy’s club; she is trying to fit in, to make her work easier, but she is actually being a victim of sexual harassment; her boss is using his power to control and intimidate her.
Why are we not really comfortable talking about it? What must be done for men in leadership roles to understand we all individuals regarding f our gender? Why do women have to be seen as women first, before someone can see her capabilities? I doubt we can answer these questions 100%. Sexual harassment can easily be dismissed as women sleeping their way up the ladder, but women struggle out there, with their troubles hidden, that no one really tries to deal with, or give solutions.
I can only imagine the hardship one goes through. I challenge all the Human Resources personnel or the Relations officers at work to find out what is really happening in their operations, to give support to victims and educate the men and the women about sexual harassment. Men should even be scared of even trying it, but of course it is always his word against hers, and men hide behind that – it is one of the reasons sexual harassment cases are not reported.
How is your company dealing with this subtle harassment? Do you feel empowered to speak up against this behaviour? What else can we women do?
My name is Nondumiso and I work as a Production Superintendent in South Africa at a large mining company. I would like to share my experiences and hear from other women working in the industry. The views that I will share with you are my own.