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Executive Summary

Champions of Change report “Disrupting the System – Preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace provides a guide to more effective organisational approaches to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The report was inspired by the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins and developed by 270+ CEO and Board-level leaders over two years,

The approach argues that the prevention of sexual harassment should be a key accountability for Boards, CEOs and Executive teams – akin to their occupational health and safety responsibilities. It also recommends people who experience sexual harassment be able to tell their story, in their own words, if and when they choose to.

“By openly acknowledging the prevalence of sexual harassment and taking action to address its systemic drivers, leaders have the unique power to ensure their workplaces are safe, respectful and inclusive. Their employees and the community expect no less from them.”

of Member organisations have a formal policy or strategy in place for preventing and responding to sexual harassment

 “Disrupting the System – Preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace provides leaders with guidance and practical actions to:

  1. Elevate the prevention of sexual harassment and early intervention as a leadership priority.
  2. Address sexual harassment as a workplace health and safety issue.
  3. Introduce new principles on confidentiality and transparency for high-profile sexual harassment cases.
  4. Inform, empower and expect everyone to speak up and take action on sexual harassment in the workplace.
  5. Listen to, empower, respect and support people impacted.
Steps to Eliminating Sexual Harassment

The report also includes useful resources available for other leaders to adapt or adopt for their own context to accelerate change.

  • A contemporary sexual harassment policy template.
  • Guidance on managing workplace relationships.
  • A framework for Board reporting on the issue.
  • Simple tools to help employees recognise the many forms of sexual harassment and the range of actions or responses available to stop the behaviour and prevent its repetition or escalation.
  • There are also comprehensive details on referral services for people who experience sexual harassment.

The development of the report involved consulting with people who deal with sexual harassment complaints within organisations. This includes CEOs, Boards, human resource leaders, legal advisors and communications teams. Academics, community lawyers, federal and state human rights commissioners and other experts in the field were also engaged. Particular attention was paid to Respect@work, the findings of the National Inquiry, released in March 2020.

The failings of the current system for reporting and managing sexual harassment are well known. The evidence is clear that greater and more visible leadership is required. Disrupting The System – Preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace focuses on the role of the most senior leaders of the organisation – CEOs, Executive teams and Boards.

This work forms part of the Champions of Change broad and long-term mission to achieve gender equality, advance more women into leadership and build safe, respectful and inclusive environments for all.

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