He who shares his story of…

Don’t watch it happen…like I did!

The Story

I am an old man now. Well, I feel it these days as I see the young ones come into our industry.

I am old enough to have three adult daughters. Beautiful young ladies who are growing up so quickly. Two are spitting image to their mother – petite, loving, precious, graceful. One is a music teacher and the other a gymnastic coach.

My other daughter was always more like me and always wanted to show everyone she was. So it was no surprise that my eldest went on to become an engineer in the mines.

I am not one to tell a story. I don’t actually read much of this stuff on this web thing at all. But my pride and joy showed me this website – she told me one of these stories are written by her friend. It was a sad one. It was one about sexual harassment.

My heart stopped.

My mind reverted.

I was taken back to when I was working in the mines as a young whipper snapper – well before she was born. I was on a project at one of our international mines. A team of us had been working on this transformation project for several months. We had worked hard and spent many hours getting what needed to be done, done.

There was a young lady in our team. She would have been about five years older than my daughter is today.

This girl was ambitious. This girl was smart. This girl was also quite attractive to the eye.

Well she was in the eyes of the Senior Project Manager. He had his eyes on her every time we went on assignment. Or every time we went on an evening work function. Or frankly, every time his wife wasn’t around.

We all knew it happened. We all knew the pressure he put on her in those evenings. When my daughter showed me this website and my mind reverted, it went back to an evening I saw him hold her around her neck and escort her to his hotel room up the hall from mine. I remember looking into her eyes knowing that the young girl did not want to again go into the room with that old man but she felt there was no choice.

She felt she had no choice for the sake of her career – like I felt I had no choice but to not call out the wrong doings.

I chose my career over stopping a bottom line behavior from occurring right before my eyes. I want there to be stronger people than me in the industry my daughter has chosen to work in today. So that is why today I share my story and I hope you all take on my call to action and don’t watch it happen…like I did!

The Message

Sexual harassment causes profound physical, emotional and psychological impacts to those affected. It is unacceptable, against the law and must be eliminated from our industry’s culture and workplaces.

As a worker, you have a duty to take reasonable care of your own health and safety, and not adversely affect the health and safety of yourself or others. This means workers must not sexually harass co-workers or other people at the workplace.

Research suggests that substantial proportions of employees, even a majority, directly or indirectly witness sexual harassment at work.

Regrettably, research tells us that employees have indicated that they did not report harassment against themselves or others because of fear of retaliation by the harasser or organization. People felt it would be a career limiting move to push back on someone of authority from doing the wrong thing.

In very masculine work cultures, some men use the subjugation of women as a way to relate to other men and prove their masculinity, while in their mind reinforcing women’s lower status. At the same time, women who want to be part of the perceived high-status group feel they can’t report sexual harassment because they do not want to be further alienated.  A reason individuals may fail to speak out against sexual harassment is something called the bystander effect, which says that we are less likely to help a victim when others are also present. The bystander effect occurs for two reasons: diffusion of responsibility (if others are present, someone feels that other observers are responsible for intervening) and social influence (bystanders observe others’ behaviour to determine the correct behaviour; so if no one is intervening then that seems to be the correct behaviour, as people abide by the status quo). This can even give the appearance that the behaviour is condoned by observers.

The Call to Action

Every organisation should have clear prevention measures and response measures in place to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. To implement the mining industry’s commitment to eliminating sexual harassment, MCA has developed an Industry Code that establishes clear expectations on companies in developing a culture of respect that empowers individuals to raise concerns in a supportive and protected way. This code should be used by all organisations, regardless of their industry.

You can take bystander action if you witness sexual harassment at work. You can also take action if you didn’t see the sexual harassment occur but someone told you that it happened. The action you take may be different but both forms of action can be effective.

If you see harassment occur, you can recognise the behaviour for what it is and name it, do not ignore it. You can talk to the person who is doing the harassment and tell them to stop