Don’t boot out flirt­ing

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & -

FOR those of us not as blessed as the lovely Deb­bie McGee (see below) an up­com­ing ITV se­ries will be pro­vid­ing plenty of anti-age­ing tips. Eight celebri­ties will be­tween them try to look “100 Years Younger In 21 Days” with the help of bizarre ther­a­pies and beauty treat­ments. EastEn­ders leg­end June Brown, 90, left, got lum­bered with two of the Dot­ti­est. She had snail slime and wee splashed over her face in a bid to CHRIST­MAS party sea­son is fast ap­proach­ing and my in­box is fill­ing with jolly emails.

I’ve had eti­quette guides for the of­fice knees-up, the “sex­i­est dresses to wow your work­mates” and how to hide a hang­over at your desk.

And a poll re­vealed that half of of­fice work­ers will en­joy ro­mance at their of­fice party this year with a ma­jor­ity forg­ing last­ing re­la­tion­ships.

Read­ing this aloud, a male col­league re­minded me that I grabbed his bum on the dance floor one year and joked that these days he’d “re­port me to HR”.

He wouldn’t. Be­cause it was ban­ter and I wasn’t try­ing to as­sert my authority, scare or un­der­mine him.

But it made me won­der how I’d feel if I WAS ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work... if I was sus­pended be­fore any in­quiry be­gan, pub­licly named and com­pared to rapists, vi­o­lent abusers or Har­vey We­in­stein.

I would be dev­as­tated. I doubt I’d ever re­cover. Per­haps I’d feel like Welsh As­sem­bly mem­ber Carl Sargeant did be­fore he killed him­self on Tues­day.

Sev­eral women ac­cused him of “un­wanted at­ten­tion, in­ap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing or grop­ing” – se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions war­rant­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But he was sacked be­fore he was told the de­tails. It was a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to avoid em­bar­rass­ing the as­sem­bly and Labour party and he was de­nied his right to due process.

I don’t know if Mr Jones was a sex­ual ag­gres­sor but I be­lieve he fell vic­tim to the cur­rent sex abuse mael­strom

Yet when­ever I voice that opin­ion to fe­male col­leagues I’m made to feel like a misog­y­nist di­nosaur.

Sex­ual abuse and ha­rass­ment are ab­hor­rent and un­ac­cept­able. Men must not be al­lowed to threaten, con­trol and un­der­mine women as they have been do­ing for gen­er­a­tions.

Com­pa­nies have a duty of care to em­ploy­ees and need sys­tems en­abling them to make a con­fi­den­tial com­plaint against a col­league, a man­ager or even the chief ex­ec­u­tive, know­ing that it will be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.

But we need to keep a sense of per­spec­tive and be hon­est enough to ad­mit that some peo­ple may mis­judge or mis­rep­re­sent cer­tain sit­u­a­tions through fear, naivety or mal­ice.

And while the word “ban­ter” has been sul­lied by Don­ald Trump’s “grab­bing women by the pussy” ex­cuses, I’d hate to see flirty con­sen­sual ex­changes with col­leagues killed off.

Or joy­less of­fice par­ties with­out mistle­toe, glam frocks and a bit of fes­tive flirt­ing.

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