“Within my department there was a distinct feeling of superiority amongst the men, an obvious clashing of egos within the hierarchy, and once the beers came out, no one held back - gossip was rife, bitter and political.
One particular guy would look me up and down daily, comment on my appearance and often follow me out of work for a chat. Knowing he knew I was happily married, I ignored it all, along with other juvenile remarks made by another male colleague clearly antagonising the situation. This went on for 6 months.
What I didn’t realise was that this would all come to a head, in the office, at a party, when he approached me, stroking my backside, saying things, “Are you into anal?”, “Its inevitable we are going to fuck” etc. This coupled with an impending project working together for the first time, forced me to report him as I no longer felt safe at work.
At 35, having worked at multiple agencies, being 12 years familiar with a white male-dominated culture in Ad land and within tech industries - I could never have predicted the profound effect this incident would have on me.
It challenged what I thought I understood about safely, trust and vulnerability as a woman, what behaviour I deemed ok at work. It made me question my values and re establish boundaries, whilst managing the stress that comes with raising formal concerns against someone.
My eyes were also opened to the harsh realities to victims of HR processes, the lack of proper support for victims, unequipped staff tasked with managing these situations, etc. I went through the harassment case (before the MeTo movement), reporting 3 men in total. I was successful at uncovering a culture - forcing xxx to address issues of a male dominated culture. I was conveniently swept out the door when it was all over.
I now choose to work from home on smaller projects, expanding my knowledge of print design for over a year after the case. This allowed me the time to process everything and re educate myself on how best to manage situations causing unease at work. I’m now looking forward to going back into the office, to an industry I temporarily fell out of love with. I’ll do this for a while to save for other passions I have since discovered as a result of all this. I look forward to the future.”