With the shocking and tragic news of Sabina Nessa’s murder recently, women across the country have been forced yet again to face up to the sad truth that they are not safe on our streets.
Sadly, with 844,955 offences flagged as domestic-abuse-related reported to the police in the year ending March 2021 (a 6% increase from 798,607 offences in the previous year)* many also won’t feel safe in their homes.
And, according to our own TimeTo research, almost half of people (49%) in our industry won’t even feel safe at work, because, as we return to office life, so does the fear of a return to sexual harassment, with “pent-up aggression, anxiety and anger” and “boundaries about what is appropriate being forgotten” being named as potential causes.
One respondent said:
“Working from home during lockdown has meant I can work freely, without fear or even the possibility of sexual harassment.”
While another said:
“Social distancing is one of the best things to have happened. I’ve never felt more comfortable being a young female in a male-dominated environment.”
There was a lot of talk after Sarah Everard’s death about how men needed to change the way they behave around women, and initially, this felt like some of that messaging was getting through (well, apart from the preposterous #notallmen hashtag). And that at least we’d seen a sliver of positive change after such a horrendous event.
But, as we all start heading back to offices and social situations, sadly, this all seems to have been forgotten.
While we’re not saying women coming back to offices and social functions should fear for their lives, we have to look at the statistics and verbatims above and realise that change around attitudes to sexual harassment is not happening quickly enough. That lockdown only pressed pause on the problem, and people are scared in our offices and businesses every single day.
And business leaders need to realise this. They need to start taking sexual harassment in their workplaces much more seriously. Every single leader has had to create (or is in the process of creating) a post-Covid back to work policy and strategy. Surely tackling sexual harassment should be part of this plan? It is just as important as keeping people safe from Covid and, sadly, a few bottles of hand sanitiser won’t cleanse the mental (and often physical) wounds sufferers of sexual harassment have to deal with every day.
One simple and effective way is to take the TimeTo training. It is interactive, thorough and cost-effective, and is genuinely one of the best training courses I have ever taken. Sign up, and one of our expert trainers will deliver a two-hour interactive session. They’ll give practical guidance on sexual harassment at work to increase your team’s understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace.
Importantly, I found that it provides a language, confidence and framework for women and men to speak freely, to be comfortable acknowledging unacceptable behaviour, and be confident in taking action if it becomes necessary.
And the best thing is that all funds raised from our training sessions will be put back into TimeTo to help us eradicate sexual harassment in our industry for good.
We have recently written to all TimeTo endorsers to advise them that undertaking the training for their senior management teams is now a necessary criteria in order to retain their endorsement of TimeTo. Any new companies who wish to become TimeTo endorsers in the future will be required to do the same in order to gain their endorsement status.
And if you’re not a business leader, but want to make a difference, then ask whoever runs your company or HR department whether they are signed up to do the TimeTo training. If they are not, ask them: why not? Let’s start increasing the pressure and ask all our industry leaders to take this more seriously.
Kerry Glazer is chair of AAR, Untold Studios and the TimeTo steering committee.