Movies are Made of This
Are we Building a Space for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
It may not be Hollywood, but “movie stars” are not the only victims of workplace bullying and sexual harassment. What is considered sexual harassment and workplace bullying? Where do we draw the line drawn between sexual harassment and “friendly workplace banter”? Obviously under no circumstances is sexual harassment tolerated any workplace, thus it is important to consider all avenues to prevent it from occurring. Statistics have highlighted that the architectural industry is a male dominated one with men holding the higher director positions in most large firms. With sexual harassment and #MeToo and #TimesUp taking centre stage conversationally and in the headlines it is important to investigate if it exists in the architectural industry and what firms can do to prevent it.
To begin, let’s look at the survey conducted by “The Architects’ Journal”, (Figure 1), and although the survey is based in the United Kingdom, out of 1500 surveyed, 1 out of 7 answered ‘YES’ to having experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace during the past year’. Harassment and bullying also can occur on site, as well as during meetings with clients, contractors, engineers etc. When we look at the results of the “2016 Women in Architecture Survey” (Figure 2) which is conducted worldwide, it suggests that ‘approximately 72% of women have experienced sexual harassment- with 38% reporting discrimination and 28% have experienced harassment’.
When interviewing local architects, thankfully none of them commented that they had experienced sexual harassment in their time in the office or on site, instead a majority stated that they find their job to be very rewarding and did not consider the industry to be male dominated. “I don’t think of the industry in this way (being male dominated). The benefits of working in the construction industry are that we get to work with dedicated, creative, talented people to create built form, regardless of gender.” However, the “2016 Women in Architecture Survey” also asked if they had been ‘witnesses of sexual discriminate in their workplace’. It can be argued that this question is a challenging one to address, as it is difficult to determine what different people perceive as sexual discrimination- especially as many of the respondents to the interview are males. Of this survey, the highest percentage of sexual description reported was one in 50 women reporting witnessing sexual discrimination on a daily basis, contrasting to the 31% of UK men reporting never witnessing sexual discrimination.
FIGURE 2: RESULTS OF THE 2016 WOMEN IN ARCHITECTURE SURVEY
So how do we prevent sexual harassment in the workplace? It comes down to the leader’s responsibility to lead by example and ensure that there are rules in place which do not tolerate this type of behaviour in the workplace. To create a safe working environment, some necessary measures need to be undertaken. Ensuring strong workplace policies and expectations are in play, and identifying what constitutes bullying and harassment. Linking this to having a workplace culture that encourages employees to feel comfortable about discussing anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, are positive reinforcement that harassment will not be tolerated. This can include having ‘go-to’ people of both genders and investigate and deal with any situations that arise immediately and courteously. And a clear reminder for all management, that they are not exempt from complying with any policy.
1. Rory Stott, “1 in 7 Women in Architecture Have Experienced Sexual Harassment in Past 12 Months, Reports AJ ,” ArchDaily, February 8, 2018, accessed April 24, 2018, https://www.archdaily.com/888734/1-in-7-women-in-architecture-have-experienced-sexual-harassment-in-past-12-months-reports-aj
2. Bruce Tether. “Results of the 2016 Women in Architecture Survey revealed.”The Architectural Review, February 26, 2016. Accessed April 23, 2018. https://www.architectural-review.com/rethink/results-of-the-2016-women-in-architecture-survey-revealed/10003314.article
3. Dani Martin (architect, EIW architects), in discussion with the author, October 2017.
4. Bruce Tether. “Results of the 2016 Women in Architecture Survey revealed.”The Architectural Review, February 26, 2016. Accessed April 23, 2018. https://www.architectural-review.com/rethink/results-of-the-2016-women-in-architecture-survey-revealed/10003314.article
7. Merilyn Speiser. “Stop Harassment in its Tracks” Parlour, March 5, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018. http://archiparlour.org/stop-harassment-tracks/
FIGURE 1: https://www.archdaily.com/888734/1-in-7-women-in-architecture-have-experienced-sexual-harassment-in-past-12-months-reports-aj