Category archives: Sexual harassment

It’s time men ‘Leaned In’ to address gender inequality

I attended the recent Marie Claire success summit in Sydney. I wanted to attend because I feel strongly that women in work in Australia need men to be actively engaged on this issue of gender equality. I felt I needed to be a part of the conversation that is going on. I was one of 2 men who attended the summit that was attended by over 700 women delegates. We enjoyed listening to amazing women speakers who had powerful messages to share.

Frankly, I was surprised so few men attended. Gender equality is not simply a women’s issue. It is a whole of community issue. The business case is now done and dusted, gender equality is a good thing and we must collectively and resolutely resolve this issue. Just as Sheryl Sandberg through her book called for women to ‘lean in’ and to participate, so it is for men.

Through my work I hear men say “I just don’t see inequality”, “it is not really an issue in 2014”. However, just because gender inequality is not ‘seen’, does not mean it does not exist. It does.

Men in denial or worse, men who are disinterested or disengaged are in fact adding to the problem instead of being involved in the solution. Risk to Business continues to investigate matters of discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace bullying throughout Australia. Our own research in  clearly indicates it is still going on in Australia. On occasion we are perplexed about how those behaviours can still occur in the 21st century.

Gender Inequality – Fast Facts:

• There is an 18.2% pay gap between genders across the board in Australia;
• Of the 226 seats in the Federal Parliament, 69 are held by women, and women comprise 29.0 per cent of all parliamentarians in Australia. Only have one woman holding a top job in the cabinet. Women hold half the voting power in Australia;
• 36 of the ASX200 still have no female representation on Boards and the latest document states the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 18.6% (31 August 2014) according to the AICD;
• The average superannuation account balance for women was $40,475, compared to $71,645 for men. Men have round 63% of total superannuation account balances, compared to 37% for women. Most women live longer and will likely retire without sufficient funds to sustain them;
• Like Australia, women in the US continue to outpace men in educational achievement, but women’s participation has stalled in progress at the top of any industry. In the US women hold around 14% of Fortune 500 executive-officer positions and about 17% of board seats, numbers that have barely improved over the last decade.

Women do not need us men to ‘fix’ them, or to fix the ‘problem’, but to work alongside them and with them to overcome the clear inequalities that exist in Australia.

I heard Elizabeth Broderick speak powerfully of her concerns around gender inequality, and how important the male champions of change program is to change. A few days later Elizabeth Broderick received an award and recognition as the most influential woman in 2014. Her Male Champions of Change program, which puts powerful men at the forefront of updating attitudes about the capability and place of women at top levels of business, is being replicated in other states, and in various industries. These male champions are ‘leaning in’. More action is needed.

So, I pose the question. What can you do as a man, a husband, a business owner, operator, manager, a leader, and a father, do to lean in? Think about it and get involved in debate and action. What will your legacy be on this important issue? If you need help on a starting point, contact me.

Finding bad apples

bad apple

Bad apples exist throughout society and business is no different – these people need to be found before they make the other apples bad. Before the rot sets in – as they say. I have spent much of my life finding the bad apples. I have observed that Business and employees need protection and that compliance alone is not adequate.

CCndexLast week I was fortunate to be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Comcare National Conference in Melbourne. I shared with more than 650 delegates about where my passion for keeping workplaces safe. I went on to tell of my deep sense of purpose and my thoughts about preventing inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. The central point of my presentation was that staying in a place of compliance is not a safe place for organisations to be and that ‘hope is not a strategy’.

I challenged the audience to consider:

If you focus, take a systems approach and you are tenacious, you get to play a bigger game.

For most organisations the response to prevention of workplace behaviour risk is defined by the ‘risk appetite‘ of the executives, directors and leaders within and of course, budget. The obligation on directors & organisations to provide a safe workplace is very clear. Regulators and tribunals know this and encourage compliance to a standard. A standard developed which is a minimum standard. This standard is often patently inadequate given the resources available to larger organisations.

We are seeing increased compliance and regulation placed on organisations around safety because compliance alone isn’t preventing or reducing workplace behavour risk adequately. It isn’t fueling the adequate pace of reduction in injury and cost reduction.

Cats ndexAdopting a minimum standard is like a sporting side taking the field in a ‘do or die’ final and the players only doing their minimum, instead of playing full on. Imagine the coaches and supporters viewing such an approach from their team. I have no doubt that changes would be made quickly to improve performance.

To me the approach for us is no different but the stakes are much higher. We are not simply playing for a trophy and accolades. We are playing for greater engagement, productivity and the improved health and well being of Australian workers and their families. Not just for now but for future generations.

Here is the irony – I know we have done a great job for our clients when they no longer need us…

Could you play a bigger game to keep your team safe?

Protect or Perpetrate

morrison-20140614104732804171-620x349

Bully or bystander. Is it the same thing?

In Lt General Morrison address at the June 2014 global summit to end sexual violence in conflict – made a bold and powerful statement – polarising debate – engaging people behind his call for an end to sexual violence and greater equality for women in military roles in times of conflict.

Every day at Risk to Business we work in businesses who find themselves ‘surprised’ by the behaviour of some of their employees. I am very glad that Morrison has spoken out – and it is relevant for all work places.

He showed insights and strong leadership to make his statement , particularly in face of recent allegations about inappropriate behaviour in the Australian Defence Force. Morrison has said “enough.Here is the report.

Morrison states that  “They (soldiers) either protect or perpetrate”.  In other words there is no middle ground. If you see bullying and do nothing about it then you too are a perpetrator. Ignoring someone in pain – turning a blind eye – not helping is condoning the behaviour of the perpetrator and makes the witness one too/

His comment is very relevant to my earlier blog about ‘Bullies & Bystanders

Morrison also said: “There are no bystanders — the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” And I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Do you agree? – Let me know your thoughts

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 3.45.24 pm

Sexual Harassment – Research Update

Stuart Training - Close Up 2013

Our Australian research revealed that the younger people are the greater the risk of sexual harassment. Sadly, 37% of people reporting sexual harassment felt that no-one cared and were told to ‘toughen up’ by their manager. Alarmingly 24% of cases reported that organisations either did nothing or made matters worse and 11% of people experiencing sexual harassment felt sad, alone, and contemplated suicide.

Here is one story of the hundreds we received during our work:

Leadership Required
“This takes place nearly every day. It ranges from men trying to put their hands down my top to trying to kiss me and ‘feel me up’. They make inappropriate advances to me and when I take it to my manager he just laughs. Generally there are people around when this happens but it gets worse when no-one is around. On employee came around to my house in the middle of the night, banging on my door and texting me. My manager is someone I thought I could go to but, nothing changes. I have to leave my job.”

And another:
“Whilst one of my female colleagues was bending over, a male colleague came up behind her and simulated sex”

Research Statistics
14% of people complained to their manager;
16% took legal action;
10% resigned;
23% took long term sick leave (more than 30 days);
12% reported bad behaviour toward them was copied by others;
30% of people did not report it;
people under 34 years of age are most at risk;

Industry Sector Statistics – The Top 5
Hospitality = 22% of sexual harassment reports;
Business & Finance = 16%;
Retail = 15%;
Transport = 14%;
Emergency Services = 12%;

State & Territory Statistics
Tasmania – 18%;
Queensland – 14%;
Western Australia – 13%;
New South Wales – 12%;
South Australia – 12%;
Victoria – 11%;
Northern Territory – 11%
Australian Capital Territory 7%