You would need to be living under a rock to have missed the recent commentary regarding some high-profile inappropriate workplace behaviour in Hollywood. While stories like this may seem sensational and far-removed from our Australian workplaces, we have our own sobering statistics regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault.
These recent revelations give us all an opportunity to ponder the concept of behavioural standards and think about a situation or two in our life when we may have chosen to walk by, ignoring inappropriate behaviour, when the brave thing to do would have been to help another person stand up for what is right. After all, during times like this, we are all pretty quick to judge others, without reflecting back and asking ourselves….. Do we have our own equivalent? Or, perhaps a better question….. Think of a time we behaved in an inappropriate manner, or chosen to ignore another person who was behaving in such a way? OK, I get it, I hear the switch you just turned on….. Yes, the plausible excuse mode!
We all have the power to take personal responsibility for the way we treat others. More importantly, we all have the power to stand up to inappropriate behaviour when we witness it being inflicted on another person. I think the phrase “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” sums it up very well. This very mind-set could save your life and the lives of others some day!
The standard you walk past is the standard you accept
Having spent many years in the area of training and policy management, with regard to appropriate workplace behaviour, I would like to take you beyond sexual harassment and to open up your thoughts about workplace bullying and equal employment opportunity as well. For far too long, in my opinion, we have put all our eggs in the physical safety basket, with the focus on preventing workplace injury (which of course is important), without paying respect to the ‘softer’ yet equally important things, such as anti-bullying, zero tolerance for sexual harassment and the pro-active encouragement of inclusion in the workplace.
Why is it that some businesses, some bosses, some teams, just know how to make you feel safe, treat you fairly and with respect….. Whilst others….. Well, they just don’t get it?
Could I suggest that it is all about setting and maintaining standards, and creating an environment where people feel included. With inclusivity comes individual confidence and a sense of belonging, and this is the kind of environment where people are more likely to have the courage to call out poor behaviour. For employers, a great starting point is training your people on appropriate workplace behaviour, and ensure you have the policies and procedures in place to support the swift identification and resolution of poor behaviour when it occurs.
During these times, I encourage you to take more responsibility for the way you treat people and also inspire you to have the courage to step up when another person needs your help. After all, I can’t think of anything worse than reading a news story in 20 years time, knowing that in some way shape or form I could have helped prevent such an incident.
Until then, I wish you well in creating a safe, fair and better workplace for your people to come to work and feel safe and that they will always be treated fairly and with respect. It starts with one person, even in an organisation of 1,000 or more staff or a country with 20 million people!
Please let me know what you think about this article?