Workplace policies on sexual harassment essential to protect women

Women’s conference heard powerful testimony in support of City of Edinburgh’s call for workplace policies on sexual harassment, to protect women from rape and unwanted sexual harassment in the workplace.

Moving the motion, City of Edinburgh’s Elaine Wishart told delegates that City of Edinburgh Council had spend around £2 million on an enquiry after “harbouring, enabling and protecting a serial sexual abuser of women, at work and at home.”

She said: “The #MeToo movement was incredibly powerful and overdue. But unless we have the framework of a steadfast and robust sexual harassment policy at work, good people might be afraid to act. Far too often claims are investigated by men and covered up by men.

“We need to ensure that everyone understands the magnitude of sexual harassment policies. We need to stand with survivors and make the workplace a safe place. Any compassionate employer must ensure there is clear guidance in place for dealing with our experiences.”

Sophie Cheney, SEPA branch spoke in support telling conference that women experience sexual harassment in all aspects of their lives to the extent that it has been normalised in society.

“It can be devastating, especially when it’s not recognised as abuse,” slammed Sophie.

She pointed to the work done by the TUC, alongside the everyday sexism project, in 2016. They interviewed over 1500 women about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. More than half said they had experienced it in some form.

“Some of the effects these women reported included negative impacts on their mental health, avoiding work and even leaving their jobs.

“This isn’t ok.

“We need workplace sexual harassment policies to raise the profile of what it is and to make sure it doesn’t remain normalised,” urged Sophie.

“We need to empower women with information to know that if it does happen to them that it will be dealt with effectively and to give them the best chance of holding perpetrators to account.”