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Tacking harassment in engineering – what candidates need to know

by Heat Recruitment

Harassment, unfortunately, is a fact of life for many within the workplace today. In a personal sense, it’s unacceptable. From a business focus, it dramatically cuts the amount of talent willing to work for a business. People, quite simply, do not want to be in an environment where they risk being harassed by other staff on a day to day basis.

In essence, it comes back to traditional gender roles and male dominated industries. Did you know, for example, that half of British women and one fifth of men have been sexually harassed either at work or a place of study?

It’s not an issue that’s limited to any one particular demographic, but it is demonstrably worse in certain areas.

That’s the reason behind why I spoke with Engineering & Technology Magazine recently and gave my thoughts on what candidates need to do to find the right role:

“Steve Auburn, senior recruitment consultant of engineering at Heat Recruitment, says potential workplaces where harassment may occur could be indicated as early as the job interview stages.  

“Language used by interviewers could be a warning sign, but interviewees should make sure they are asking the right questions during the interview to probe into what the culture is like.” Finding out how many women are and have been employed would be a good start, “but it’s vital to find out which roles within the business are occupied by women – particularly at senior levels.

“While having a senior team made up of men is not a sign, a toxic workplace is more likely than with a company with a more diverse leadership team.” Using social media platforms to research companies, messaging someone who works there and checking review sites can help get an idea of the work culture. 

If already employed by a company in which you’re experiencing harassment, it is more difficult to do something about it. HR is a first port of call, “but the HR department can often be motivated by protecting the company from any liability”, Auburn says. This often works in favour of an employee, but the opposite can occur. “Joining some form of union would give an employee the leverage they need to be taken seriously – instead of just one person versus the world,” he adds.

Auburn advises that you should take all necessary steps to ensure the issue is resolved within your organisation, and the issue could just be down to one individual rather than the overall culture of the business.

He says that if you feel you can’t continue to work for your company after all avenues have been exhausted, you “should look to leave for pastures new”.”

What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced some level of harassment within the engineering sector?

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by Mike Taylor