This blog was written by an iHASCO member of staff, who hopes this post makes at least one person feel less alone. They wish to remain anonymous.
I remember feeling so confused about my experiences at a previous place of work. At the time - this was some years ago - I didn’t know whether my manager’s behaviour was acceptable or not. I knew it made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t know what to do. It was one of those grey areas.
The point is, I didn’t know if I was ‘just making a fuss’ or if this was actually classed as sexual harassment… and if he even knew himself?! I kept thinking about how awkward it would make things at work if I said anything to him, or reported him officially.
This manager made suggestive remarks and often ‘adjusted’ himself when he was talking to me. He seemed to make me a favourite and he would use nepotism as a manipulative tool to get in my good books.
I needed flexibility with my working hours and he knew I was dependant on him for that. He was always ready with a very helpful plan, followed by lots of hugs and lingering around. He would spend a lot of time in my office. He talked A LOT about how many affairs he’d had and that they were all with people at work. I really think he thought he was the bee's knees - untouchable.
He would compliment me on my clothing and my figure, and one time he even pinged my bra strap, but other than that he was very careful never to do anything physically inappropriate. Most of it was verbal. He kept it subtle. I felt uncomfortable being alone in the room with him and after I spoke to some female colleagues about it, I found out they did too.
Eventually, I’d had enough and I reported it. But when I did, I was interviewed by another male member of management and I got a weak response about the guy being “just like a kid in a candy shop” - as if it was a given. As if it was acceptable! This infuriated me and it made the whole reporting thing feel pointless.
I left soon after that and I don’t think it was ever really dealt with. I did hear from a friend that still worked there, she said the guy complained to other members of staff about “a very influential ex-member of staff trying to get me in shit.”
Back then things weren't so easy to work out, but I now know that it was sexual harassment. I wanted to share this story to let other people know that even with the grey areas, you still have a case. If you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or uneasy about someone’s behaviour, you have the right to do something about it and to be listened to.
Harassment is illegal and all organisations should take this seriously. We all have the right to feel safe and comfortable at work, and nowadays it’s good to see that more and more people feel confident about sharing their experiences. I hope this post has made at least one person feel less alone.