Time’s up. And it’s time we properly talked about the problem. And not simply talked, either. It’s time to act.
Part of the problem with the whole #timesup issue, when it comes to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace… is that we don’t think it’s our issue. We convince ourselves that it’s not our problem. But while we’re doing that, we’re never going to truly achieve a world of work which is equal and accessible – at all levels, in all industries – to all.
Male, female, or those who don’t identify with either gender – we are kidding ourselves if we think the issues behind #timesup haven’t affected us. Part of the problem is apathy. Because we don’t personally think that we’ve been discriminated against, or harassed, and because we believe we haven’t observed it happening first hand, we think that it’s something only happening to a tiny minority of people.
But that’s partly because those behaviours have become so normalised, so entrenched within our workplaces, that we don’t even see them any more. And because of that, it’s going to take a whole swathe of us who are willing to stand up and call #timesup on those behaviours. (And that’s going to take guts. It’s not easy to put our heads above the parapet and state that the status quo which has been the norm for so many years now is wrong, is unacceptable. But it is so, so important that we do.)
Ever observed the only woman in the room being asked to take notes, or go and get the coffee? Ever justified paying certain – male – teams more on the grounds that ‘that’s the market rate’? Ever been in a meeting where certain inappropriate comments or ‘jokes’ are being made which you can tell are making certain people in the room feel uncomfortable? Those are just three of the thousands of examples I could give. If you’ve seen any of those things happen and you haven’t questioned it, then, right now, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.
I have a son and a daughter. I refuse to accept that either of them will have to grow up into a world where behaviours such as the above aren’t challenged. I am going to make a personal commitment in 2018 to stand up and question actions, choices and behaviours which I feel are contributing to the inequality in our society. I would ask every single one of my friends, LinkedIn connections… everyone – to do the same. And, if every single one of you did, I honestly think we might have a fighting chance of creating a world of work which is accessible, open, and fair – truly fair – to all.