Sexual harassment at the workplace: how a coach can help you
The Weinstein scandal has placed the subject of sexual harassment at the workplace at the forefront of our current reality. According to the Huffington Post, one out of three women has experienced sexual harassment at work, a statistic that has been considered conservative.
What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment can be generally defined as unwanted words and behaviours, sexual in nature, that undermine a person’s dignity, physical and psychological integrity and create a toxic work environment.
Manifestations of sexual harassment in the workplace come in many forms and are not limited to the following:
- unwanted pressure for sexual favours;
- unwanted sexual looks or acts;
- implicit or explicit threats of retaliation should one refuse to agree to perform implicit or explicit sexual demands;
- inappropriate sexual comments on someone’s physique, appearance or sexual orientation;
- intimate questions on one’s private life;
- unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature;
- unwanted teasing or remarks, sexual in nature;
- use and distribution of pornographic material.
How can a coach help victims of sexual harassment?
For victims working within a large organization, initiating a process can be eased by the presence of a Human Resources department and the existence of policies and procedures addressing sexual harassment complaints. For victims working within smaller organizations that offer no formal support as much as for victims working within those larger ones, fear based hesitation can stunt their will to address the challenges raised by the harassment. In both cases, a coach can explain the process to follow, validate the victim’s complaint, clarify the legal framework applicable, identify the different options available and offer the required support. The goal is simple: to help the victim put a definite end to the sexual harassment in a manner that is legal, safe and efficient.
It can be destabilizing for victims to initiate such measures, causing painful self doubt, guilt, depression, anxiety, loss of motivation, decrease in work performance and even trigger a premature resignation. A victim that feels powerless may have difficulty emerging intact from such a process. A coach will inform, guide and help the victim identify and cultivate the inner resources required in order for her to stay grounded and come out as safe as possible from the process.