How To Stop Sexual Harassment At The Office Christmas Party
In partnership with DRINKAWARE
The brave outpouring of stories from Hollywood and Westminster – and in workplaces across the land – has brought a widespread realisation that sexual harassment exists everywhere.
We can all agree something must be done to address this.
Think about your office Christmas party: At best, a chance to show off the non-work wardrobe and let your hair down with your colleagues courtesy of the boss’ credit card.
At worst, an annual free-bar-driven hotbed of inappropriate behaviour you remember for all the wrong reasons.
What is deemed unacceptable while soberly working at your desk, sometimes, dangerously and unjustly, gets a pass under the umbrella excuse of ‘friendliness’, ‘flirtatiousness’ or – god forbid – ‘banter’ after a few drinks.
Almost two thirds of women (63 per cent) and 26 per cent of men aged 18-24 who drink in bars, clubs or pubs reported being on the receiving end of unwanted sexual harassment, according to statistics from Drinkaware.
People report grabbing and groping, inappropriate language, even being leered at from across the bar. Things you wouldn’t do in a clinically-lit place of work.
Unwanted sexual contact manifests differently in each and every single scenario of the many instances every night across UK clubs and bars, but there is no one instance that doesn’t leave victims coping with upsetting consequences.
Almost three quarters of men and women between 18 and 24 who drink in bars, pubs and clubs have reported seeing sexual harassment on a night out.
Young people feel disgusted and upset when we see sexual harassment on social media, retweeting the shocking stories shared by friends and friends of friends.
But we need to learn to do the same in real life, in real time when we are the bystanders to sexual harassment, wherever that may be.
By stepping in to support the person being targeted, we give that person a chance to get out of the situation and send a message to the perpetrator that the behaviour is unacceptable.
While respect for your fellow human should be second nature, the current climate has – rightly – made people stop and think and consider the consequences of behaviour they previously excused.
So, to make it absolutely clear, Drinkaware have outlined a few little rules to follow if you encounter a case of drunken sexual harassment on the dancefloor – or at the bar, or in the club, or at the office Christmas party.
Heck, anywhere you see some douche-bag ruining someone else’s night.
You can make a difference by checking in with someone who seems uncomfortable.
Ask if they are OK, rather than directly confronting the person whose behaviour is unacceptable.
This lets the person know you have their back and can defuse the situation in a non-aggressive way.
Drinkaware worked with the Good Night Out campaign, and academic Rachel Fenton, project lead for ‘The Intervention Initiative’ at the University of Exeter, to develop some advice with the help of police, as well as experts on how to prevent stalking and sexual harassment.
Watch the campaign video below:
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It’s not OK for anyone’s night to be ruined because of intrusive or inappropriate behaviour. If you see someone being sexually harassed on a night out, it can make a big difference if you ask them if they’re okay – whether they’re a friend or a stranger!
Remember: Spot it – Is there something dodgy happening? Check it – Is it safe to step in? Speak out – If it is safe, ask ‘Are you ok?’ to the one being hassled. If not, try staff or security.
You can follow Drinkaware’s ‘Spot it, Check it, Speak out’ advice to make sure everyone has hassle free fun on nights out in the run up to Christmas and generally – works for friends, acquaintances, strangers.
If we decide not to ignore this behaviour, and speak out more regularly, we can challenge what has become a ‘norm’ and help create a safer, more respectful culture in bars and clubs generally.
So maybe take a little time to check yourself, and watch Drinkaware’s video.
You can catch it here:
If you, or someone you know, has been affected by sexual harassment or any sort of sexual harm, help and support is available. Victim Support is an independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime.
They offer free, confidential help to anyone affected by sexual harassment. Call 0808 1689 111 or go to www.victimsupport.org.uk for advice.