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Employers must focus on ‘deeds not words’ when fighting sexual harassment, union warns

‘The reason women don’t come forward is because they don’t think they’ll be believed,’ GMB national president Barbara Plant says

EMPLOYERS and unions must focus on “deeds not words” when fighting endemic sexual harassment in workplaces, GMB national president Barbara Plant said today.

She told delegates at a GMB congress fringe meeting that having better policies is “never enough — they have to be enacted to build up a cycle of trust” with survivors.

The general union overhauled its own procedures following a damning independent investigation in 2020 which found it was “institutionally sexist” and suffered from “deep-rooted misogyny.”

Speaking in Brighton, Ms Plant said: “Having a policy is never enough — there has to be deeds as well as words.

“We then build up a cycle of trust. The reason women don’t come forward is because they don’t think they’ll be believed, they’re not treated with empathy.”

The ex-teaching assistant stressed that the union movement should “live up to our values of equality, inclusivity and solidarity every day, but we live in a patriarchal society and therefore we are part of that wider culture.”

She urged every employer to be “open, honest and transparent” about the issue and for “everyone to play their part in stopping sexual harassment” across society. 


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