Reasons Sexual Harassment Is An Open Secret At Work

Talking About Sexual Harassment

The explosion of alleged sexual harassment and rape accusations against Harvey Weinstein is dulling the lights on Hollywood’s tinsel town.

People are wondering who knew about Weinstein’s alleged behaviors against female actors. And more importantly, why didn’t anyone intervene?

Here are a few reasons you might not report or stop sexual harassment. 

Disbelief
1) You don’t believe it’s possible. Particularly, if you feel like you know the accused and the accusations go against what you believe about them. When you find out something bad about somebody, you’ll find ways to justify or explain their behavior.  You might think that the alleged was misunderstood.
2) You don’t believe that the act wasn’t non-consensual.

Powerless
1) You’re one person and you think, “What can one person really do to stop this?”
2) You don’t have proof. It’s only hearsay. You tell yourself, “ If it were a problem then the victim would speak up, right?” Not necessarily so.

Risk/Reward

You ask yourself, what you gain and what you risk by speaking up. 

Fear
1) You’re afraid of retaliation to you personally or professionally.
2) You think about consequences and fall out if you're wrong. 

None of my business
You don’t want to get involved because you think it’s none of your business. But, you’re already involved by remaining silent. By not speaking up, you’re complicit in it happening.

It’s our collective responsibility to prevent or stop sexual harassment. Just because it isn’t happening to you, doesn’t mean that you don’t have power to stop it. It takes one person to start a change. One voice turns into several voices because your courage allows others to take a stand with you. 

We know sexual harassment is against the law. We know that companies have policies against it. Yet to create an environment where people aren't afraid of retaliation, it starts with company culture. When people within your company or organization don't tolerate the jokes, innuendos and stories about sexual harassment then it’s sending a message that sexual harassment won’t be accepted. When you feel that company culture won’t allow it then it gives you courage to speak up.

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @blancacobb. Remember to use the hash tag #BlancaOn2. Or, you can find me on my facebook page.

Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/corporate trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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