Hold employers like the Presidents Club to account
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This morning, news broke that a men-only charity dinner, attended by politicians, businessmen and celebrities was at the centre of a sexual harassment expose.
Female ‘hostesses’ report to have been propositioned, groped, and sexually harassed by attendees of the Presidents Club charity dinner which was held at the Dorchester Hotel last week. The guest list included multiple high-profile figures from politics, business, and the entertainment industry, including well-known billionaires and celebrities.
During the six-hour charity event, hostesses were ordered to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and heels. Undercover reporters witnessed hostesses being subjected to groping, lewd and sexual comments, as well as propositions to join guests in their bedrooms. Hostesses reported guests putting their hands up skirts, and one woman even reported a guest exposing himself to her.
I was shocked to find out that the Presidents Club who hosted this event have no legal responsibility over what happened to these women.
The Fawcett Society released a report this week saying that until 2010, section 40 of the Equality Act protected employees from sexual harassment from third parties (like the men at this dinner) in the workplace. But in 2013, this was repealed - so employees are not protected from sexual harassment at work if they are harassed by a customer, client or contractor. It means that organisations like the Presidents Club can turn a blind eye to blatant sexual abuse because they aren’t culpable. It’s time we change this!
Like these women, I too have faced unwanted remarks and sexual advances in the workplace. Like so many other women, I did not report the incident to my employer because I feared that it would not lead to any consequences, and would only damage my position at work.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movement shows that those who commit sexual harassment can be held accountable by the people who work for or with them. But we need to improve the steps that are put in place to make sure perpetrators are held accountable not just by their workplace and society, but by law. It’s time that Amber Rudd - Minister for Women and Equalities, Baroness Williams - Minister for Equalities, and the government started protecting women from sexual harassment from customers and clients, by re-introducing section 40 of the Equality Act and making sure that employees are protected.
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