Imagine being the woman in this photo.
What sort of feelings would you have? Someone who makes you uncomfortable is reaching to touch your face without asking.
To make matters worse, there’s another person sitting next to you who sees it all without doing anything, despite sensing your obvious discomfort. Being victimized by harassment can be a very lonely feeling even when it happens in the presence of others.
Situations like this are all too common. Harassment happens all the time but is under reported by both victims and bystanders due to fears of retaliation and beliefs that we just need to “tough it out.”
Often, harassment leads to shame and victims don’t feel like they don’t have the right to complain because they’ve put up with it for so long. This is how you end up with situations like in this photo where the victim thinks she can do little more than turn her head away. And bystanders either participate in the humiliation or feel powerless to prevent or report it.
As a supervisor, you need to ensure situations like this don’t happen in your workplace. Pass this photo around as an example of harassment and the cost of being a bystander.
Harassment only stops when people talk about it and call for change. Educate employees on their options and make them feel safe to report complaints and concerns. Dedicate yourself to making sure the scene portrayed in this photo doesn’t unfold in your workplace and on your watch!