I attended a great #MeToo round table discussion at #MTG (Maurice Turnor Gardner solicitors) offices in London recently. The legal perspective on such a key issue is always great to hear. The audience questions were thought-provoking and moved the conversation from a business risk focus, which seems to be the one of the primary concerns for a harassment claim, into a health, safety and well-being space. The impact of harassment is often wider than just affecting those directly involved. Aside from the stress/emotional impact, the level of distraction impacts on mental and physical well-being which is why I firmly believe it sits in both camps (whether or not the Health and Safety Executive agrees).
The conversation looked at the impact of power associated with a senior role as well as that of social situations in the workplace. When harassment arises there are no winners…. in one way or another everyone involved becomes a victim, often carrying the memory of the event with them for the rest of their lives - impacting their mental, emotional and yes, physical well-being in the short and long term. Whenever we discuss harassment it is also important to remember that the discussion always happens after the event - by which time both the victim and the guilty party are stressed, angry and anxious and unlikely to be at their best.
So what are we doing to change this culture of ‘harassment’? Indeed, can we do anything or are we just powerless to respond with legislation and punishment after the event? Perhaps we need to start with the perpetrators. I am curious as to how consciously they were aware of the true impact of their actions - on their victims, their families and their life - or were they too caught up in a society where they believe they are expected to be number one and behave in a certain way?
Now let me make it clear, I AM NOT condoning their actions - far from it! But I do wonder what insecurities they are hiding behind and whether they are acting under the impact of stress - meaning their clever neo-cortex brain isn’t capable of functioning as it would normally. Have they themselves literally have become victim to their auto mind/body connection - being driven by habit and fear?
Unless we can teach people about how their operating system works - showing them the power of thought and opening them up to the real internal change process, in a safe way that doesn’t require masses of courage - then perhaps this culture of harassment is sadly here to stay.
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