Harassment | Brendan Fraser's Oscar speech was a timely reminder about worker safety

Brendan Fraser's Oscar speech was a timely reminder about worker safety

NOTE: This article contains discussions of sexual harassment and assault.

Those who tuned into the 95th Academy Awards over the weekend will have likely fought back a tear or two watching Hollywood veteran Brendan Fraser accept his award for best actor with an impassioned speech discussing the darker years of his career.

Fraser, who some may remember for starring it hit films such as The Mummy and George of the Jungle, compared the darker years of his life to ‘being at the bottom of the ocean’, with the people in his life being his only connection to the surface.

What many may not know, is that his sudden absence from our screens was in part due to a sexual assault he experienced at the hands of an executive within the Hollywood community. He later explained that the incident left him ‘spiralling into depression’, resulting in an inability to work within the industry.

The disturbing prevalence of sexual assault at work

Sadly, Fraser is far from alone in experiencing sexual assault within the workplace. Research from the TUC previously highlighted that over one in two women had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, whilst seven out of ten LGBTQ workers noted similar experiences.

The types of sexual harassment reported to the TUC range from inappropriate and offensive comments or ‘jokes’ of a sexual nature to unwanted touching, sexual assault and rape.

Around 32% of women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature and more than one in ten women reported experiencing unwanted sexual touching or attempts to kiss them in the workplace. In addition, one in eight members of the LGBTQ community have reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.

Like Fraser, these assaults are far from fleeting experiences. Victims often experience deep psychological trauma following the harassment, including episodes of PTSD.

The role of power in sexual assault within the workplace

Fraser’s experiences of being assaulted by someone within a position of power, as with other high-profile cases within the ‘Me Too’ movement, will be familiar to many victims. The TUC’s data found that sexual harassment appears to be more likely in situations where there is a substantial power difference between abuser and victim.

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Perpetrators may be abusing a position of power by harassing someone they see as less powerful or may feel powerless and use sexual harassment as a means to disempower the target of their harassment and thus increase their own power and status in the workplace.

Nearly one in five respondents to the TUC’s study reported that their harasser was either a direct manager or someone else with direct authority over them.

Preventing sexual assault within your workplace

As the data proves, sexual assault is still disturbingly prevalent at work, and HR has a duty of care to employees to prevent harm to their employers. The first step in ensuring that you create a safe workspace, is to ensure that your culture is one of respect and boundaries.

It's essential that all employees understand that you have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind. Part of this policy is ensuring that workers have a clear path to anonymously raising any harassment they experience or witness.

Elevating Employee Presentations from Offer to Onboarding

Elevating Employee Presentations from Offer to Onboarding

In the dynamic landscape of talent acquisition, the journey from offer to start date is crucial for making a lasting impression on new hires.

HR leaders and presenters are redefining their presentation strategy to not only inform but to actively engage and retain the excitement of today's employees and new hires.

This solution transforms your approach, ensuring that information is not just easily accessible but also presented in a way that captivates and immerses new hires in the content.

As you embark on the journey of impressing and retaining the excitement of new hires, create presentations that leave a lasting impact and set the stage for a positive onboarding experience.

Enhance your onboarding experience by incorporating these interactive components to your presentations: 

  • Document and Resource Hub

  • Task Checklist

  • Team Introduction Videos

  • Virtual Tour

  • Uniform Ordering Portal

  • Benefits Overview and Enrollment

  • And more!

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Firm boundaries should be demonstrated from the top down, with all senior leaders buying into and making employees aware of their commitment to preventing assault. Anti-harassment policies should be regularly communicated and clearly signposted.

As with Fraser, victims must decide if and when they return

Fraser’s return to screens signified a poignant moment in his career. However, it’s important to note that sexual abuse is an experience that is personal to each victim, and as an employer, it’s your job to ensure that only when the victim feels psychologically and physically safe and able to do their job will they consider returning.

Sadly, for many the prospect is simply too traumatic and HR’s job in this case is to make the process of moving on as simple and frictionless as possible. However, prevention is better than cure, and it cannot be overstated how important it is to have stringent anti-harassment policies in place.

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