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How to Become an Active Bystander
in the Presence of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Course Presenter: Christiane Sanderson 
Course Duration: 1 day, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Suitable for: Employees at all levels of an organisation 

Learning outcomes (or specific areas covered)

  • Enhanced awareness of the range of behaviours that constitute sexual harassment 
  • How to implement and maintain respectful physical and personal boundaries
  • How to recognise and respond effectively to sexual harassment 
  • Strategies to feel confident in becoming an active bystander 
  • Enhanced awareness of the range of interventions and how and when to implement these 
  • When and how to challenge colleagues who engage in sexual harassment 
  • How to step in directly and intervene when witnessing sexual harassment
  • Distraction strategies that aim to interrupt sexual harassment 
  • How to make others in the workplace, such as managers and HR, more aware of incidences of sexual harassment
  • Strategies that show support and concern for the individuals who have been targets of sexual harassment 
  • How to build a sense of community in the workplace based on equality, mutual respect and safety for all employees.

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Full Course Information

Research has shown that an effective way of changing attitudes towards sexual harassment in the workplace is to encourage all employees to become involved in responding effectively when witnessing incidences of sexual harassment.  Through increasing awareness and knowledge of sexual harassment, employees can be empowered to move from being passive or indifferent bystanders to becoming active arbiters in facilitating change and reducing tolerance of sexually inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment. 

This training day will provide a range of strategies that will enable employees to feel more confident in recognising, responding and intervening when witnessing sexual harassment, and to develop skills in how best to provide empathic support to colleagues who are, or have been, targets of sexual harassment. 

Emphasis is placed on evidence-based strategies that have been shown to reduce risk aversion and thereby enable employees to address and prevent sexual harassment through active bystander interventions. The aim is to enable all employees to give voice to any concerns they may have and equip them to challenge sexist comments and behaviour more effectively in order to reduce sexist attitudes and behaviours. Participants will have the opportunity to explore how to develop intervention strategies, such as disrupting incidences of sexual harassment, how to report any concerns they have and how to support colleagues who have been targeted or exposed to sexual harassment. 

To facilitate this, a range of scenarios that constitute sexual harassment, such as inappropriate, sexist and homophobic attitudes, sexual comments and humour, rape jokes, victim blaming, unwanted touch (both non-sexual as well as sexual), watching pornography in the workplace or enticing younger or more vulnerable employees into unwanted sexual encounters will be explored.  Effective strategies to manage these are presented, including challenging and disrupting inappropriate behaviour safely, the use of distraction to interrupt and circumvent the inappropriate behaviour, how to alert others in the organisation to such behaviour, and how to support colleagues who have been, or are being, targeted, in order to make the workplace a more respectful and safe environment for all employees.  

The training is interactive through the use of case examples, victim impact statements and role plays, so as to explore how to become an active bystander when witnessing sexual harassment, in order to create a safer workplace environment. The training is tailored towards how individual employees can address and contribute to reducing sexual harassment, rather than the policies or procedures organisation should have in place.  The training can be customised for each specific workplace and is suitable for all employees in all industry sectors.  

About the Speaker

Christiane Sanderson BSc, MSc. is a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, of London with 26 years of experience working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence. She has delivered consultancy, continuous professional development and professional training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, solicitors, the NSPCC, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Committee, the Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Police Service, SOLACE, the Refugee Council, Birmingham City Council Youth Offending Team, and HMP Bronzefield.

She is the author of Counselling Skills for Working with ShameCounselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition, Counselling Survivors of Domestic AbuseThe Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse, and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friends for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.

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