Sexual Harassment Part 3. What IS being done? The Final Part in the Series by Intercultural Mediator – Susanne Schuler

What IS being done?

In Part 1 we looked at the cultural origins of harassment. In Part 2 we expanded on what actually happens. Now, in this concluding piece, we highlight what actions are needed to diminish the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Let’s train everybody to be aware…

As a broad corporate response to the emerging crisis (Pandora’s box is now open), a wave of group Sexual Harassment Awareness Training Courses are being spashed over executives. And it is all coming in a rush. Centred on behavioural awareness and compliance (no, the other compliance) they have a very specific tone. Often with stern warnings and containing horrible scenarios, the message is one of shame and blame directed at the vile nature of some male behaviour.

Businessman portrait

But, this rapidly deployed and reactive intervention could prove to be counter-productive.

According to some research, there is a downside to this style of teaching approach. Short, high-pressure, punitive harassment awareness courses, that focus on blame and promise punishment, may actually be delaying the desired change in male behaviour in the workplace. A side effect of the powerful content contained in these courses is construed as a general accusation making all men automatically wrong and covering all male executives with a blanket of condemnation. This, in turn, can contribute negatively to the goal, hindering some men to acknowledge the potential for danger. The confrontational nature of the material shifts them from free dialogue into a defensive and avoidant position, where some begin to justify their actions or chose instead to hide in deep denial.

When a corporate sheep-dip course is rolled out rapidly as a reactive tactic by male management, probably in response to a sexual harassment incident within the company, possibly involving one of their own, an instant cure is not always forthcoming.

Unwanted side effects include seeing men taking refuge in polarity, the strengthening of male in-groups for mutual protection and a general disengagement from the subject, and, thus making resolution less likely to occur. When this approach is taken, especially in competitive and sales driven organisations, where the male hero stereotype has been promoted for years as the company ideal, the company finds that their promoted culture of, “hunt like a predator” cannot be switched off so easily or so quickly.

Maybe you can’t sheep dip a wolf.

So, compliance courses, rushed out to all employees in order to kill off the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace are not proving a panacea.

Maybe we need to go deeper in our study of the abuse of power by men and look to see how women get caught up in this dynamic.

For women, the current rebalancing of #metoo and #timesup is creating a safe space, beyond shame and silence, for those at the receiving end of abuse, sexual harassment and discrimination. This movement has peer support, allowing the sharing of stories with less judgement and is, at last, letting light shine in upon decades of secrecy, silence and fearful darkness.

It has taken action by women for women bypassing the boardroom, to get proportionate airtime, begin the debate and change the ground rules for both men and women in the workplace.

What now?

Will the repeated and amplified myth of man as a dominant, experienced, decisive, macho, courageous and an all-conquering hero, morph into something safer, more savoury and more appropriate for today’s business world?

Or, will the bastions of male power lash out, take revenge and reclaim their territory?

If the #metoo door is shut again, we can expect a panoply of abuse, a continuance of harassment in the absence of consequences for men and justice for women wronged at work, and, a strengthening of the ultra-male script – look out with dread for the return of the ravishing Viking.

Or, a better Hollywood script… Imagine the scene – On a wild and windy beach… there gather a critical mass of modern office workers, reborn and newly conscious – a promising new generation of aware workers committed to the creation of a healthier work dynamic that shows up in meritocratic reward whilst allowing for transparent flirting, healthy romance and witty in-group humour, and, killing off the exchange of job advantage for sexual favours.

And, when the #metoo wave peaks, then it will be time to advocate for a code of conduct that covers team buddy banter, in-house flirting, work romance and prescribes a moratorium on sexual trading, physical threat and the abuse of power in the work place.

Questions – Will we see a revoking of the free wheeling sex pest’s power pass in the workplace and the rise of self-policing and self-editing male work colleagues who are fluent in the modern work languages of respect, restraint and reasonable behaviour in the workplace?

Or, will the wave pass and the doors be locked again for another 20 years?

Only time will tell.

The new paradigm could be liberating for everybody.

About the Author – Susanne Schuler is an Intercultural Mediator at CEDR, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.

Catch up on the Series so far…

Part 2 What Do We See?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/sexual-harassment-what-do-we-see/

 

Part 1 Where did it come from?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/sexual-harassment-where-did-that-come-from-an-opinion-piece-by-susanne-schuler-part-1/

 

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Sexual Harassment Part 2 by Intercultural Mediator Susanne Schuler– What do we see?

At what level does sexual harassment begin, and – How far does it go?

A second opinion piece by Intercultural Mediator, Susanne Schuler

(Reminder: Part 1 was about Where did it come from? – Hierarchical power and vulnerability plus the Gender neutrality-equality v Beauty primium dilemma and the impact of bias.)

There are several versions of the sexual harassment escalation scale. This is perhaps an indictment of the enormity of the abuse that is occurring. Let us look at an aggregated ladder of possible encounters;

Homme charmeur

*Looking – intensely or leering

*Language – sexualized conversations in the workplace, one-to-one or male group vulgarity around or toward lone females

*Suggestion – crossing the flirting line with explicit requests, described activities or observations and judgments

*Physical moves – contact & proximity, escalating to physical intimidation and cornering

*Trade / exchange – in-work offers of favourable treatment in return for forms of sexual compliance or issuing a threat of negative consequences if compliance is not forthcoming

*Forced choice – aggravated demands for sexual engagement

*Forced sexual moves – forced physical violation

*Violence – the use of extreme non-consensual physical force upon women

It is a depressing list.

Q. Why can’t we all just get on with our work in the office?

A. The same social and educational forces that have shaped women’s roles and behaviours, make us vulnerable to exploitation. These forces have also conditioned a part of the male working population to believe that successfully taking advantage of a female work colleague is, somehow, a badge of honour, a rite of passage or, simply, a perk of the job.

E.g. The complex reality on the ground – an example – A job panel may unconsciously or consciously discriminate against a working mother’s application when hiring for the role of a travelling sales person. The panel members may project their own feelings and prejudice onto the selection process accordingly.

Their fixed image of a good mother include that she should not being sexually available, staying at home with her children and fear that she may be exposed to the negative encounters that accompany holding down a job travelling around the UK.

What has just happened?

Arising from a collective and projected male knowledge of the threat of harassment, they pre-emptively exclude her from consideration, knowing of the harassment that can come with a woman eating alone in restaurants, staying at service station hotels and meeting customers in their offices as well as socialising with them as part of relationship building.

They are projecting dangers arising from their own fear, shared knowledge and experience. With the best of intentions (the most dangerous phrase in the English language), they are reluctant to expose a female worker, wishing to undertake a travelling role, to the abuse and harassment that they know / fear she will inevitably encounter.

Debrief

We can see in this real scenario, the two sides of the gender dilemma coming into play – First gender neutrality, the female candidate may be the best applicant for the role, and, if put through the gender blind process we saw with the US orchestra, she would indeed get the job based on merit. In this version, if she has applied for the role, her life choices would not be questioned and her treatment would be even-handed regarding gender.

Secondly, the female attributes as currency perspective becomes awkward, twice. Firstly, does her beauty play a part in driving up her commercial selling potential, making her a more successful closer and so a strong candidate for this targets-based role?

And,

Sticking with this path, will her attributes expose her to better working conditions – special treatment, lower barriers etc. or, worse ones in the professional space? And, in the public arena? The panel anticipate pestering in public places, customer assumptions about her values and mores etc., leading to an increased chance of sexual harassment occurring in the execution of her job and the pursuit of her career? The feminine attribute of motherhood is considered in a vacuum, and, the fact that her partner may be an excellent stay-at-home carer is not factored in. The net total of all these concerns count against her as the panel consider her application.

As we can see – life is complicated. We have bias, diversity and inclusion guidelines, pragmatism and a skewed view, both positive and negative, as we stack up all the elements of bias coming into play.

E.g. The abuse of power – Let us consider a second example. The Harvey Weinstein story combines the feminine attributes as currency model with an extreme power dynamic to produce perfect storm conditions, all leading to a repeated pattern of abuse. The scenarios, outlined by vast swathes of women, have a number of common elements. We hear the repeated theme of motivated young women being lured into the wrong place, with the wrong man at the wrong time, at the beginning of their careers. They had little or nothing by way of clout, a supportive network around them or equity to fall back on. Now, add in wild promises designed to resonate with the driven ambitions of these young actors – just one last hurdle to jump lies between the impoverished ingénue and an irresistible film role and the opportunity for fame, fortune and success. Thus, the scene is set for a two-stage trading decision to be made. The first comes with the casting-couch – trading sexual compliance for career advantage, inclusion and a chance to make substantial progress as an actor. And, depending on the outcome of the first trade, a second horrific escalated choice, sexual compliance for survival and the chance to leave that hotel room… at all.

This complex topic is trending at the moment. What will come out of this heightened level of awareness and attention both for men, for whom it was a deeply buried dirty secret, and, for women who have the chance to share their stories, stake their claim and design a better workplace for everybody?

End of Part 2.

Next Time – Part 3 – What is being done? And, What can be done?

Part 1: Where did it come from?

Part 3: What is being done? and What can be done?

About the author, Susanne Schuler is an Intercultural Mediator working at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London. She has written the book Intercultural Mediation  At Work, published by Bookboon. To buy the book click on the link;

https://bookboon.com/en/intercultural-mediation-at-work-ebook

Utrecht Summer School – Operating Effectively Across Cultures, 20th to 24th August, 2018

Jackie van der Kroft,  Peter-Ben Smit and Nicole Kienhuis bring you this high energy, interactive and important course.

Wharf level night view of Oudegracht canal in the old city centre of Utrecht, Netherlands

Night view Utrecht, Netherlands

Are you interested in and/or already working across cultures, either at home or abroad? This course will support you in operating more effectively across international and intercultural borders. You will familiarize yourself with culture as a concept, become more aware of cultural differences and you will acquire insights in how (cultural) assumptions have an impact on your own thinking and behaviour. Moreover, you will be able to use the Intercultural Readiness Check© to assess your current competencies in intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty. During the course you will reflect on these intercultural competences and strengthen them.

This summer Utrecht University offers you a challenging course on “Operating effectively across cultures”. Therefore knowledge about cultural differences and intercultural competencies become even more crucial in our globalizing world. Performing well in one’s own familiar context or culture doesn’t automatically equal studying or working effectively in an international context or in a multicultural team. Even though we live and work in an increasingly globalized world, in which we seems to look, sound and think more and more alike, we are faced with deep layers of cultural differences. Not only on a national level, but also in many other, sub-cultural ways: e.g. origin, education, gender, age or sexual orientation

Outcomes

• Have discovered different frameworks to come to an understand of the concept of culture
• Are aware of your own (cultural) identities and how this has an influence on how you perceive others;
• Are able to signal and describe how cultural misinterpretations can arise (intercultural sensitivity);
• Are aware of the complexity of intercultural communication and discover different communication frameworks;
• Know about the effects of your cultural background and personal characteristics on communication;
• Learned about and are able to vary in communication styles according to the cultural context, e.g. to give and receive feedback in a culturally sensitive way (intercultural communication);
• Learned different approaches in dealing with (cultural) differences
• Know about the importance of investing in relationships and networks and developing win-win solutions (building commitment)
• Are aware of the potential of cultural diversity to innovation and learning (managing uncertainty);
• Have gained in-depth understanding of your own cross-cultural qualities, possible pitfalls and ways to enhance your intercultural competences in your own international or intercultural work environment.

For full details and instruction on how to apply please clink on the link;

https://www.utrechtsummerschool.nl/courses/culture/operating_effectively_across_cultures

or Contact Jackie directly;

E: info@jackievanderkroft.nl

T: +31(0)615823786

Internship Opportunity – 3-month Full time CEDR Foundation internship to work on research projects on Diversity & Inclusion and consumer understanding of Fairness

CEDR – The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution Role.

SIETAR UK Friend CEDR – The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution is looking for a full-term intern for a Diversity and Inclusion Research project for 3 months in the period from mid-May to August 2018 and will pay up to £4,500 for five days a week of work.

The projects are the intern will be working on are:

  • A project looking at understanding the barriers to Diversity & Inclusion within the UK mediator profession (3 days per week);
  • A project looking at understanding how consumers perceive fairness and acceptance of decisions within alternative dispute resolution (2 days per week).

Who are CEDR?

Cedr Logo

The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) is an independent, non-profit organisation with a mission to cut the cost of conflict and create choice and capability in dispute prevention and resolution.

For over 25 years, CEDR have set the standard for dispute resolution and conflict management with our leading mediation, consultancy and training services:

CEDR Skills offers leading expertise in consultancy, training, and coaching to enhance skills and capability in negotiation and conflict management, including the leading internationally recognised Mediator Skills Training and Accreditation programme.

CEDR Dispute Resolution Services – Commercial, the largest independent alternative dispute resolution body in Europe.

CEDR Dispute Resolution Services – Consumer, provides adjudication for many thousands of consumer complaints each year.

Our Foundation undertakes innovation and research in the area of conflict, as part of our not-for-profit work.

CEDR employs around 60 people, and we also work with well over 100 self-employed mediators, trainers and consultants on a regular basis.

The Role

The intern will be working closely with the Diversity and Inclusion project team. The primary function of the intern will be to focus on a literature review of Diversity and Inclusion research within the legal and alternative dispute resolution fields with the aim of providing a report to inform the next stage of the project. This role includes a variety of tasks and duties including:

Data Analysis


*Desktop research

*Review of literature

*Review of other data sources, such as surveys etc.

Content Creation
 Producing of regular summaries of the research outcomes
Creation of a report on the research outcomes

Experience and skills required;

Interest in pursuing diversity with ideally previous experience in researching this area (eg. university dissertation/essay in area; or work report)

*Interest in in pursuing diversity with ideally previous experience in researching this area (e.g. university dissertation/essay in area; or work report)

*Strong expertise and skills in research methodology and report writing, including excellent use of English

*Impeccable organisational skills, including the ability to plan ahead and anticipate potential problems

*Ability to prioritise and adhere to deadlines and work under pressure

*IT literacy (Windows XP/Microsoft Office/database/E-mail)

*High level of accuracy and attention to detail

*Good communication skills and able to engage with different stakeholders on the project

Personal requirements

The successful candidate will be professional in attitude and appearance with excellent interpersonal skills. They must maintain strict confidentiality in performing their role since a large proportion of data is highly sensitive. It is also essential that they have the following:

*Capable of working using own initiative with minimal supervision, but also able to be an effective part of the team

*Flexible attitude to a workload that might change and develop

*Good time management

*Proactive approach to work

CEDR is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from all sections of society

Duration

Start: early May (as soon as possible)

Research phase completed by Mid August

Full time role.

For full details and instructions on how to apply click on the link;

https://www.cedr.com/docslib/CEDR_Foundation_internship_-_May-August_2018_.pdf

 

Engage Conference 2018 – The Emergence of Intercultural Youth, 29th March 2018, Dublin Castle, Ireland

Making Minority Priority

The National Youth Council of Ireland in November 2017 published a report called ‘Making Minority Priority’ focused on challenges of young ethnic minorities in Ireland. The Youth Platform Project has grown to 24 youth groups representing thousands of youth in Ireland. The Engage Conference 2018 is targeted at youth representatives from organisations that are members youth initiatives working or looking to work closely with young ethnic minorities.

platform 13 jpeg

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/engage-conference-2018-the-emergence-of-intercultural-youth-groups-events-tickets-42047897393

Eat Prey Grope Resign – No Love

When will Sexual Harassment stop?

Pandora’s Box is currently open and what is being released seems ugly yet disturbingly obvious. To an extent, we all share a common feeling of shame at semi – knowing the news coming out about sexual abuse already.

It has taken a while to emerge because we have collectively created a hostile environment of judgement and name calling, where the victims of abuse carried out by powerful men are made to feel afraid and hesitant about coming forward. There was nowhere to hide. Now there is #metoo. Before today, there was only the fear of public ridicule, of another close encounter in a lift or of suffering career aspiration damage.

Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes are up there. And now Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and a stream of unsavoury characters from British Parliament are emerging to upset us further. Again, it is less the shock, rather the confirmation of our collective semi-knowing of the on-going and systemic abuse of position, power and privilege.

Sexual Harassment

“Let’s talk”

No longer can we comfort ourselves that this was mostly just weird victimless perversion, the vice of old men with silk ropes and whips. Now with the #metoo campaign, the victims have found their collective voice. The people are now listening and this will be a day of reckoning for some.

Utopia

Can we dream of a better world now? Would it be that difficult for the elite to give up their political and financial dominance in order to quash a grotesque trade in requests for sexual access in return for career opportunity?

Obviously those holding the power seem to think so. Vast money and airtime are being spent perpetuating myths around the benefits of young women and powerful old men continuing to work together with all the associated side deals staying in place. Perhaps a simple and healthy alternative narrative is too terrifying and threatening for them to contemplate.

Imagine a world that is economically gender neutral and, in particularly, where jobs are deemed gender free – women can be plumbers, top chefs and physicists, men can be dancers and nurses and no one blinks.

That would take a big shift in our collective memory, overturning a vast vault made up of millions of exposures to belittling sentences, limiting judgements and gender stereotyping images coming at us via press, TV and film.

Imagine a world where the household chores are distributed evenly. A world where care work, domestic work or work traded for salaries were valued as equally significant, equally valid and equally worthy of acknowledgement.

Sweat Box

The flip side benefit of this would move beyond Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” where women are subtly asked to become more like men and fill the boardroom with mini – Margaret Thatchers. Instead the testosterone count would be replaced by a pleasant creative and innovating environment where thought based productivity replaced stressed robotic computer terminal template filling sitting silently in a soul destroying open plan office the size of half a football pitch.

Symptoms

How do we know we have not got it right? Sexist banter, prejudice, Christmas party transgressions, the trade in career enhancement for sexual favours, the casting couch, the old propositioning the young simply because the job market is tight and competitive and they can, and the concept of allowing groping hands in the company lift continuing to be justified with, “That is how you get ahead.”

And there is man-splaining (Rebecca Solnit), man-spreading, the hostile work environment – interruptions, dominance and deafness, and something I frequently witness in offices – the small number of women in a team being expected to make the coffee, print out documents and show visitors to meeting rooms.

Hope

Before we jump off a collective cliff of hopelessness, let us remember that school leavers, are the future of work and many of them seem to be getting it. No longer is casual sexism or homophobia acceptable or cool. When my son pointed out that some epithets would not longer go unchallenged amongst his peer group, I was mildly surprised as well as being heartened and encouraged.

Cause

Our collective parenting has yet to change from bringing up boys to be the little tough guy, overtly manly (& praying that they turn out straight.) And bringing up girls to be pink princesses groomed to lead a fairy tale life of motherhood within wedded bliss with wedding day planning lasting for all of their remembered childhood. And, all this flying in the face of data, our own repeated disappointment, and the cumulative evidence of life experience.

Who benefits from women cleaning and caring? Who benefits from white middle class males dominating the corporate world as well as the higher echelons of education, medicine, all religions and local and national Government?

The bastion of white male privilege is holding fast and shows no signs of being swayed by equality laws, the moral outrage of oppressed group’s or the findings of employment tribunals (recently put out of reach for the majority with the introduction of a £1,200 starter fee in the UK.)

The Current Narrative

Do we know just how 1950’s our current gender story is? When we see Mad Men / Stepford Wives, we laugh at the simpering simplicity of their lot. But have modern TV, film and social media characters really changed that much in the last 65 years? Screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron often spoke of the paucity of female character definition in the majority of successful mainstream films with the oft repeated phrases, “What is going on?”, “You don’t understand me” and, “We don’t seem to talk any more.”

One Million Images

One Million Images

Geena Davis is commissioning research and making a documentary to point out the staggering gender imbalance in modern films (Men have twice the airtime and talking time of women in mainstream Hollywood film releases.) And 96% of the biggest films where directed by men.

If you believe TV (please don’t), the life choices women are asked to make are between nurse, beauty queen, tough and sacrificing executive or home maker / baby maker.

And, the gritty reality of suburbia is actually worse! multi-generational nappy changing and taxi driving are moving up the job description.

Status Quo

Males are dominant in the economy and make the majority of the decisions that have the power to either maintain the current set up or exchange it for a more inclusive and profitable gender balanced economic future.

But there seems little or no incentive for them to do so.

It is like the Swiss Canton referendum in Appenzell, where it took until 1971 to enfranchise local women because…ONLY MEN COULD VOTE.

You can't hurry equality

You can’t hurry equality!

A Future Worth Having

Nothing will change until the narrative moves up. We need to see thousands and thousands and thousands of positive images of women in work, women in politics and women in the community portrayed on TV, in film and over Social Media. And those 3 D and robust characters need to be played by women, drawn by women and directed by women.

And let us have merit and not the casting couch as the door opener to career success.

Importantly, in literature this gender rebalancing is already happening. The majority of hit authors are now female – Think of Margaret Attwood, Zadie Smith, Anne Tyler, Donna Tartt, Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, Jodi Picoult and JK Rowling.

And more growth is needed. Isolated collections of intelligent women working in smaller communities is not going to be enough. This is a mass project requiring serious mobilisation. And this means and includes YOU. The necessary amplification of a healthy gender narrative needs to be significant.

A final thought.

And whilst we have your attention, can I ask you a challenging question? And, it won’t make you feel great. Sorry.

What subtle choices have you made today that, as you review them now – make you realise that you have helped contribute to the continued suppression of women in the home, the media and in the workplace?

That question is for everybody.

We can take 3 more generations to get the necessary shift to occur or we can start today. It is up to me and it is up to you.

Author Profile – Matthew Hill works with diverse groups of corporate executives in more than 30 countries to raise awareness of positive difference and to support inclusion in the workplace.

The Journey to Harmony in a Small French Town – The Story of Mozaiq with Natalie Lutz 

A Film of the Webinar

This unique recording tells the story of turning a small French town experiencing local attitudes of division, hatred and fear into a more harmonious community displaying cooperation and healthy levels of co-existence.

Listen to Natalie’s tale as she experiences push back, frustration and resentment before finally breaking through to something worthy and, possibly repeatable, in YOUR town too.

Natalie Lutz

Interculturalist Natalie Lutz

About the Speaker – Natalie Lutz has been helping executives and international corporations understand cultural differences and work effectively together for over 25 years. Born and raised French-American, she is bilingual, bicultural and has lived in 4 countries. She trains consults and facilitates sessions on:  Working in a Multicultural environment, Leadership, and Expatriations to France and the USA as well as Team-building.

In 2010 she created and co-founded Mozaiq, an association dedicated to celebrating diversity in a small town outside of Paris. Each year she and her team put on 4 events including a Diversity Day which repeatedly draws crowds of more than 700 participant

To access the YouTube film click here; https://youtu.be/F6lUGzWikEg  

Hard Sweaty Workouts – A Cultural Metaphor from Malii Brown

A film of the webinar – Malii has developed an idea that borrows from the sweaty physical space of the gym and applies it to benefit a diverse group of people working together and wishing to raise their level of cultural competence as it shows up in process, inclusion and equity. She is talking to YOU.

In this one-hour film (no yoga mat required), Malii expands upon her creative ideas and tells us how high-intensity interval training can be learnt, practiced and applied to good effect. So grab a pen, paper and your water bottle and plug in to enjoy this unique intellectual and emotional workout.  Click on the link to watch the film now; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPXVXAXh0oI

Malii Brown

Speaker and Trainer, Malii Brown

About the Speaker – Malii Brown is a trainer and consultant working globally and stateside to equip people with skills to manage the complexities and opportunities inherent to work and life in culturally diverse environments. She has 12 years training experience including Fortune 500 companies, institutions of higher learning, state government and nonprofits.

Malii offers a unique perspective to cultural work as a Millennial woman of color who has worked and travelled throughout the U.S. and 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. She has varying proficiency in English, Spanish, Japanese and American Sign Language (ASL) and holds a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Management from SIT Graduate Institute (School for International Training) in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College in California. She now lives in Chicago.