Don’t boot out flirting
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.