Good Boss Tips

The theme for International Women's Day on Thursday 8 March 2018 is 
#PressforProgress.

#PressforProgress needs to happen across society, including in workplaces. This is the year to THINK BIG and be ambitious about changing attitudes towards women and the work they do.

We are encouraging workplaces to be bold and CHALLENGE outdated practices.

We've highlighted five #GoodBossTips to prompt you to think about your workplace and what improvements could be made so it's a better environment for women AND men.

Don't forget, the Commission can help redesign workplaces so they are safe, modern and inclusive. Find out more about our education program and tailored workplace training.

And please don't hesitate to contact our Enquiry Line on 1300 153 292 or email us if you have any questions about the law or your rights and responsibilties.

#GoodBossTips 1: Remove any offensive materials or posters in your workplace. 101, right?

Easy, right? Who has pornographic calendars up on the wall at work these days? Actually, you'd be surprised. It does still happen.

And employers can be liable for inappropriate behaviour, so it's important to take steps to make sure you have a safe and approrpiate work environment.

  • Remind your staff that offensive material, inappropriate jokes emailed to colleagues and any kind of pornography are completely unacceptable at work. 
  • Make sure there are no areas in your workplace that are isolated or intimidating to enter – for men or women.
  • Think about whether your is workplace gender equitable. Are there more women in certain jobs or at certain levels of your organisation? Is that due to stereotyping, environment or something else? What needs to change to make your workplace more equitable?
  • Do you have a greater turnover of female staff than male? If so, why? Use exit interviews and confidential surveys as a way to gather information about inappropriate workplace culture.

GoodBossTip2

Sexual harassment isn’t a sliding scale of harm, with jokes at the low end and sexual assault at the other. Instead, it functions like a human pyramid, where minor acts support the major by providing, at best, a foundation of indifference and, at worst, an environment hostile to women. 

Make sure your workplace isn't ignoring, let alone supporting, a culture of sexual harassment.

GoodBossTip3

Do you, as an employer, fully understand your responsibilities under the law? Does your staff?

You have a positive duty to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination happening in your workplace. Part of that is having up-to-date policies and a robust complaints procedure. But that's not all.

  • Staff need to have adequate training on these policies and procedures – they also need to have faith that the policies are taken seriously and that action will be taken when necessary.
  • Review your policies to make sure they are up to date and accessible – staff need to know where to find them.
  • Have staff Contact Officers who can provide confidential information about rights and your complaints procedures.
  • Invite staff to assist in the design of a complaints procedure to encourage their support.
  • Remember that volunteers, interns and unpaid staff are also covered by the law, and should be included in your sexual harassment policy.

 GoodBossTip4

Could you spot sexual harassment if you saw it? Could your staff? What would they do about it?

If you encourage your staff to speak up when they see something that's not right, it can build a positive and equitable workplace culture.

  • Speaking up doesn't need to be hostile or agressive. A simple "I don't think that's funny or appropriate at work" when they hear an off joke. Or a quiet "Look, it's not OK to say/do that" when they see sexist behaviour.
  • Bystander action can also just mean checking that the target of the comments or behaviour is OK.
  • Actively encourage reporting in the workplace, for example by giving managers credit for taking action to encourage reporting and model appropriate behaviour.  
  • Treat reporting as a positive thing – it's better to know about inappropriate behaviour so you can tackle it early.

GoodBossTip5

Ever heard the stories about women who give up their chairs for (even slightly) senior male colleagues at a meeting? 

In trying to be polite, and "likeable" (because we all know what assertive, career-driven women can be called), women can inadvertantly affect their ability to fully participate in meetings and also diminish their status among their peers.

  • Try not to let the usual faces present at every meeting. Give everyone a chance and specifically encourage young women to take part.
  • Embrace leadership traits that are typically cast as "feminine" – such as empathy, inclusiveness, patience – as well as traditional "male" traits.

  • Perform regular gender pay gap analyses to make sure you reward women the same way your reward men. And that you're not just rewarding "masculine" traits, such as charisma, over competence.
  • Make flexible workplace policies open to women and men, and encourage men to use them. Both have families and responsibilities outside of work – not just women!

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