Bystander policies and their importance in combating sexual harassment and bullying

Eliminating poor behaviour in the workplace is everybody’s responsibility, and the onus cannot simply fall to the victim of said behaviour, say two presidents of women lawyer associations.

Cultural change is more likely to occur, and more rapidly, if employees were empowered and obligated to report conduct they consider to be unlawful, by way of workplace bystander policies and obligations to report, said acting president of NSW Women Lawyers and barrister Larissa Andelman.

“Spreading the burden of dealing with this unlawful conduct across the organisation with particular focus on persons who have some authority and power would be a potent and positive measure to reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment,” she said.

Australian Women Lawyers president Ann-Maree David agreed, saying that empowering bystanders who witness sexual harassment or bullying is essential in addressing and ultimately eradicating such behaviour.

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