Writer and academic Professor Catherine Lumby says shifting workplace cultures of sexual harassment is “a very, very long historical process.”
Speaking with On the Job with Francis Leach & Sally Rugg, Lumby explained, “What you know, the three of us know, and many of your listeners will know, is it’s structural, it is about power.”
Having worked with many organisations to address issues of race and gender, Lumby outlined what she sees as the best approach to structural change.
“Within organisations, the first thing you do is you go in, and you take the temperature of the culture, and you do that by doing anonymous, quantitative and qualitative stuff,” she said.
“You can say, look, this is where your culture is that this is where your organisation is at when it comes to understanding gender, and why sexual harassment is not okay, and why people come from different places.”
Once there is a clear understanding of the existing culture in an organisation, Lumby believes a compassionate and patient approach is best to bring about meaningful change.
“There are so many things we need to change…I think by confronting people with an intellectual academic argument about structure and power won’t get you very far.
“We need to listen before we speak, and really allow people to say things without shame or blame, and say, you know, I feel this way and I know I’m not supposed to, but I do”.
“Let’s design education programs that don’t make people feel shamed or blamed or told they’re doing the wrong things or are just tick the box exercises.”