‘Trial by gossip’ a concern
A researcher in analytics is concerned about “grapevine” prosecution of persons accused of sexual harassment before their guilt or innocence is established.
Unri Babb made the point while speaking at the Elsie Payne Memorial Lecture, held at Queen’s College, Husbands, St James, on Wednesday night.
Babb, along with Deputy Chief Labour Officer Claudette Hopegreenidge and senior manager in human resources at Sagicor Life, Calvin Husbands, were on a panel that discussed Let’s Talk About Sex – The Employment Sexual Harassment Prevention Act 2017.
Babb didn’t make any suggestions about how to put an end to the gossip and innuendos but he noted the importance of stopping such a breach.
“I don’t need to breach confidentiality from the human resources perspective or the supervisor; all that has to occur is that the word has to get out that Unri Babb has been accused of sexual harassment and the dog dead. How will I be able to recover? It doesn’t matter what the verdict is because the verdict in itself is going to be secret if I keep my job. It is not to say that I have not been accused and acquitted or that I have actually executed this form of harassment but the reality is, my name is going to be tarnished forever.
“And why I say this is because I had an instance with a colleague of mine who had to discipline an employee and the employee accused her of sexual harassment. Now what if that had spread throughout the entire organisation? Then how does she recover?” he asked.
Babb also posited the notion of “selfhelp” as a defence to sexual harassment. He suggested that if a person felt harassed they should confront the perpetrator in the moment so as to make them aware that what they did was improper.
“If you don’t name it a person doesn’t know that it needs to cease,” he added.
In terms of statistics, Babb, the principal consultant at D B Research, said he was disappointed that there were no national statistics, other than anecdotal evidence, that the HR units have been providing over time that could speak to the level of such harassment in Barbados.
Again he expressed disappointment that after checks with the Barbados Statistical Service and the Royal Barbados Police Force, neither could indicate if sexual harassment was on the increase.
A section of the audience at the Elsie Payne Memorial Lecture.