Why cooperative leadership is needed to deal with bullying

While we have seen progress in efforts to get more women into the top leadership positionsthough getting smaller and smallersexual harassment remains a major challenge affecting many women at work.

When it comes to leadership, a recent McKinsey survey, Women at Work 2021, reported that the representation of women in senior management increased from 23% to 28% between January 2015 and January 2020, while the representation in the C-suite increased from 17% to 21%. Unfortunately, the figures on sexual harassment in the workplace do not signify the same progress.

The number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rose from 7,500 to 6,500 between 2019 and 2020, prompting some experts to speculate that the drop is attributed to the transition from office to work from home, caused by the pandemic.not because of a significant reduction in risk for women. In 2018, the number of complaints was also over 7,500, a sharp increase from the previous year.

And, according to a survey of tech industry employees, the Trust Radius Women In Tech Report 2021, one in two women and two in three LGBTQ workers have been sexually harassed at work. The report cites that 72% of women in tech have worked at a company where “bro culture” is pervasive.

These tendencies could be mitigated if male and female leaders worked together, says Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust, a human capital consulting firm. But based on past history, it certainly won’t be easy.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw

“My fear is that if we don’t keep a cool head and solve workplace harassment issues together, it will be women who will become the big losers in companies across the country,” says Quinn Votaw, author Dare to care about yourself in the workplace: A guide to the new way of working.

“If men, who still hold most of the power, are uncomfortable [working with women leaders], women risk being excluded from meaningful interactions and opportunities for promotion. This is not the outcome we want,” she said.

See also: 5 Ways to Create a Safe Work Culture for LGBTQ Employees

According to Quinn Votaw, employers should provide men and women with tools that minimize and hopefully ultimately eliminate the destructive polarity that currently disrupts workplace peace, safety and productivity.

“Let’s work together to define what will help us all make better choices and create healthier work environments,” she says.

To be clear, she adds, she’s not talking about sexual assaultwhich is a separate issue and, of course, a horrible crime. She focuses on what she calls the “natural sexuality” that occurs in human encounters.

“Unfortunately, some people don’t understand the boundaries, because what is innocent flirting for one person may be harassment for another,” says Quinn Votaw, who has written about how the basic act of hugging his arms in the workplace can be perceived very differently within society. equally thriving employer cultures.

Be clear about boundariesno matter the genderis important to establish a safe environment for all, she adds. For example, Quinn Votaw notes that due to the pandemic, some in-person conference organizers have established a code to manage attendees’ comfort level with “touch.” It could mean a red name tag that would signal “no handshake” and green to suggest “happy to shake”a strategy she says shows how intent intentional employers should be on setting boundaries.

Related: HR’s big task: Getting women back into the workforce

Returning to work will present a unique challenge to tackling sexual harassment, adds Quinn Votaw, as the focus on eradicating harassment may have lost some of its momentum (as EEOC data might indicate). ), while employers try to manage a whole different set. pandemic issues now.

“Regardless of the situation, every employer should ensure they provide guidelines for culturally appropriate words and behaviors that inspire workplaces where everyone feels safe,” she says.

Virginia S. Braud