In the lead up to Women’s Health Week (3-7 September), a leading Employee Assistance Program, shines the spotlight on women’s mental health in the workplace and what can be done to change the culture of Australian workplaces.
AccessEAP has revealed that trends in their data across a five year period from 2013 to 2018, suggest that women are consistently more likely to seek counselling support than men. Currently, three in every five people registering for counselling are female.
In 2018 workplace bullying is the second most common issue for attending counselling from AccessEAP.
“There are a number of behaviours that people label as workplace bullying, however what they all have in common is the behaviour is repeated and is targeted at a specific individual,” said Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director at AccessEAP.
Results of the Working Without Fear survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (2012), show that while women are more likely than men to experience behaviour that is legally defined as sexual harassment, most women do not label it as harassment. This may be because “subtle forms of sexual harassment, for example, suggestive jokes, intrusive personal questions, or inappropriate staring, tend to be normalised in our current culture” and women may therefore not report it, or believe it will be dismissed as “normal” or an overreaction.
“Intervention at the organisational level is a key to changing a culture where harassment is normalised,” said Ms Slepica. “Often, due to power imbalances or fear of retribution, women feel safer raising the behaviour with HR rather than the perpetrator. Organisations should raise awareness and educate all employees about sexual harassment and the impact on individuals. In certain organisations a change in culture and attitudes is required; in others it may need awareness and understanding. The aim is to adopt a zero tolerance towards sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviours.”
The message from AccessEAP is that it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up against inappropriate behaviour toward women in the workplace. “When people either witness or hear about workplace sexual harassment, the clear message is that this behaviour is not tolerated”.
“The #MeToo movement and public figures speaking out has seen some organisations wanting to support employees who experienced sexual harassment, and to tackle the issue in a serious way. We have seen an increase in requests from organisations for Sexual Harassment training for managers in recent months.”
For more information visit the website: www.accesseap.com.au