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We Have a Problem, and We’re All Responsible

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Everyone has that someone they remember from their past. The one that never was.

Mine was a girl called Hannah, who I met in my first year of Uni. She was a med student (smart), had a messy bob (cute) and a blinding personality. She was friendly, confident and gregarious all in one package.

And she wasn’t attracted to me in the slightest.

I did what I could to woo her, but the truth is I just wasn’t her type and, for all the shining light of her personality as I saw it, there was nothing in there that invited me to think that she was being anything but just as friendly as she was to anyone else.

I moved on.

Right now there’s a heightened awareness that all is not healthy within our industry. With the Royal Commission digging deep into Pandora’s box, we’re hearing stories that make many of us cringe with embarrassment and bubble with anger.

But it’s not just the advice where it seems we have a problem.

Recently I heard through the grapevine of yet another situation at an industry gathering resulting in a number of the attendees reporting being harassed by others in attendance.

And yes, we’re talking women on the receiving end of this bad (male) behaviour.

Let’s be honest. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, is it?

Back in my Licensee days, I recall a female colleague reporting having felt a hand up her inside leg, put there by one of the more senior planners. At a social event the same year, my wife had her arse grabbed in full view of me by an older adviser, as if it was standard practice to do so. I’ve heard stories from conference of male staff climbing into bed of a sleeping colleague in the early hours after unlawful entry into their room. I could go on – female staff criticised for their weight/ lunch choices in front of the whole team, top female planners returning from mat leave to be told they were no longer “focused enough” before they had a week under their belts.

Related: The 3 Biggest Service Offer Mistakes Advisers Make

We have a problem.

This isn’t everyone. There are men out there who do understand that there is a way to behave in a professional environment, but I worry that this isn’t all of us.

Here’s how I see it. Just because she’s friendly. Just because she dresses well. Just because she smiles a lot, or seems to allow the conversation to take on a less formal tone. Just because everyone has had a skinful, or everyone else seems to be okay with it…

…that doesn’t mean you can touch her, make a sexual comment, refer to her body or anything else that we really should know doesn’t belong in a professional setting.

Thing is though, it happens and it seems to still be happening.

What’s the answer? Well, no one wants to live in the kind of PC-crazy world where you can’t have any kind of conversations behind the most benign, but I can’t help but feel it’s time for those of us who get it to call it for those who don’t.

This isn’t a “Knight In Shining Armour’ thing. This isn’t about fisticuffs or glove slaps or even about making a bad situation into a flashpoint.

But it is about us, the men, to be accountable to each other for what happens at these kind of events.

To not go with the boys club for fear of sticking out.

To let that guy you can see putting his hand where it’s not invited to be, or making the dumb comment, know that’s it’s not ok.

Bad things happen when good people stand aside and do nothing. This is a bad thing happening and it has to stop.

#itsnotok

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