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Workplace sexual harassment affects far more women than men, but men are the ones who bear responsibility for ending it. Besides, of course, not harassing women, we need to stand up for them, especially (and unfortunately) as we're more likely to be heard and respected than the victims themselves. Esquire has a guide to noticing, handling, and reporting sexual harassment, including how to escalate a complaint to a superior, HR, and even the press.
Their thorough guide, which includes advice from multiple psychologists and labour experts, will upgrade you from a vague sense of "I want to help," to having an actual plan. Here are three points that stood out to us:
- Say something in the moment. Take the risk of saying "That's gross" or "I'm not OK with this." If you're uncomfortable with how someone else is treated, you're not just standing for their rights, you're standing for your own. And a sexual harasser will have a harder time dismissing a complaint backed by a third party, especially another man's.
- Write things down. Keep a log of behaviour so that if you report things to a superior or HR, you have facts to discuss, and aren't left vaguely describing a "creepy vibe." This also means "keeping receipts" — logs and screencaps of offensive chats and emails.
- Consult with the victim. Give them as much control as possible, while taking the responsibility to act. Ask if they're OK with you reporting the harassment, and how they'd feel most comfortable: if you use their name or not, or if they want to report together, with you as a witness.
Read the piece for more on following up, confronting a harasser in a constructive way, and preventing high-risk situations. Read Esquire's companion piece, "57 Things I Need You to Stop Doing to the Women You Work With." And check out writer Helen Rosner's "20 Things Men Can Do RTFN to Support Women, Beyond Just Literally Ceasing to Sexually Harass Us."