WACL urges industry to tackle sexual harassment in the wake of #MeToo

WACL urges industry to tackle sexual harassment in the wake of #MeToo

WACL is calling on the ad industry to come together to build an industry-wide approach to combat sexual harassment to ensure better workplace environments for everyone.

The organisation believes there are a number of issues which need to be discussed across the industry, from creating wide-ranging standards or guidelines for ways of working to measuring the scope of sexual harassment.

The move follows a dedicated WACL Gathering event this week, which was set up following the deluge of stories of sexual harassment coming out of a range of different industries in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein case and the wave of women sharing their own "#MeToo" stories on social media.

The "#MeToo for #UsToo" event saw over 50 guests drawn from across the industry converge to discuss the issue of sexual harassment in advertising and debate how to create healthy workplace cultures, as well as who to talk to if it happens to you or if you see someone else being abused.

The event, which was chaired by Tess Alps, chair of Thinkbox, discussed the impact of sexual harassment across the industry. Panellists warned that male-dominated working environments can create a "bro mentality". In contrast, having gender balance in every department and company will lead to better work as well as a better culture, they argued.

The panel also focused on building an understanding within companies as to what constitutes sexual harassment. Lorraine Jennings, director of services and talent at NABS, shared the definition of sexual harassment from The Equality Act of 2010, which states: "Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which: violates your dignity; makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated; creates a hostile or offensive environment.

"You don’t need to have previously objected to someone's behaviour for it to be considered unwanted."

Jenning’s advice to people experiencing sexual harassment is to find someone to talk to who they trust, or to call the NABS Advice Line for impartial advice and support.

She said: "Familiarise yourself with company policy, read up on your company handbook, as you will need to put something formal in writing. Keep a diary or list detailing the times you have been harassed."

Jennings added that complaints of sexual harassment will usually only be considered at an employment tribunal if a claim is made within three months of when the incident took place.

Earlier last month Cindy Gallop called on the industry to provide victims of sexual harassment with a safety net. She said: "I want to ask every agency, agency leader and brand marketer in the UK who has principles, integrity, believes in doing the right thing, to put their name on a list of companies and people who say they welcome anyone brave enough to speak up about sexual harassment and will interview and hire them and instruct their recruiters and their HR and talent heads to actively welcome for interview and any jobs open, anyone who speaks up about sexual harassment."

According to Gallop, whilst she has received a deluge of emails from women opening up to share their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace, many women signed an NDA as part of a pay off or exit. Gallop added that the advertising industry has been "buying women’s and men’s silence" for decades.


No one should have to experience sexual harassment; anytime or anywhere. If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, contact NABS who can offer confidential advice and support on 0800 707 6607 or support@nabs.org.uk

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