How can women effectively handle harassment in the workplace when HR is missing?
I left a job at a big company to work for a business owner, who had a team of remote tech guys and no other office staff. It seemed a great opportunity, however within the first month he propositioned me at the office (a serviced apartment) after a client event.
Thankfully he didn’t rape or attack me, however he did cross physical boundaries, repeatedly trying to massage me, not taking no for an answer. Basically just a creep, trying it on, but made worse by the fact it was just he and I working together.
I felt utterly betrayed and saddened that there were no other staff – I.e. HR to reason with or discuss the issue. I felt trapped in the position, having already started and not able to afford to quit immediately and start looking for another role, also questioning and reasoning was he “that bad”?
How did you respond?
I told my friends and a guy I was dating, and a couple of weeks later I confronted him about it, which was met with denial and brushed off. I stayed at the company for a year and warned my replacement about his behaviour, staying in touch with her and checking in to see if he had crossed a line. Thankfully he didn’t with her.
Reflections in hindsight?
Have the confidence to speak up, not just being ‘nice’ or polite to the boss – protecting the ego of people in a position of authority.
I had value as an employee but was made to feel like I was only there to make his life easier.
I had strong female bosses to that point, and was totally thrown off by the situation, experiencing a male predator in a professional setting.
I was used to crass talk and flirtation at work between peers, but totally stunned by the way he carried himself, and the way he carried on as if his behavior was acceptable.