There’s nothing Mavens appreciates more than defending our right to safe, respectful workplaces. Which is exactly what Sydney-based copywriter Georgie Waters is doing through This Is A Statement – an online clothing brand that puts anti-harassment messaging in plain sight.
We connected with Georgie to learn more about the initiative and how we can all become champions for change.
Georgie, thank you so much for taking a stand and launching This Is A Statement. How big of a problem is sexual harassment in the advertising and media industries?
My pleasure, thank you for chatting to me. Given the recent revelations surrounding the alleged sexual assault in Parliament House, it’s quite timely for us to be talking about sexual harassment. When it comes to analysing how big of a problem sexual harassment is, we are only as aware as the latest data allows us to be; and sexual harassment surveys seem to have taken a bit of a back seat lately. However, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission 2018 Sexual Harassment Survey, 81% of employees in information, media and telecommunications (including advertising) reported experiencing sexual harassment in the 5 years preceding 2018.
Despite that staggering statistic, I do think our industry has come a long way. There’s more awareness, better workplace training and (hopefully) people are more mindful of their behaviour. One thing that I do think we need further education on is the ‘grey area’, this area is so nuanced and tricky to navigate; over on the TIAS Instagram page we’ve started what I’m calling ’50 shades of sexual harassment’ which is an exploration into the ‘grey area’ in hopes of educating people on what can be considered sexual harassment.
What prompted you to take action and do something about it?
In my junior years I experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, and as you can expect, it rattled me. I consider myself quite a confident person, so when it happened I was horrified. Obviously because it was despicable and shocking, but also because I began to wonder, if it could happen to me – someone who’s always been able to hold her own – then who else is it happening to? I felt compelled to do something about it, to stand up for people who might not have the same confidence (or perhaps it’s foolishness?) as me.
So, I started This Is A Statement in an effort to keep sexual harassment in conversation, educate people and donate to organisations that can effect change.
Your hats and garments have messages like ‘Be decent’ and ‘Think before you speak.’ What audiences did you have in mind when you were writing these statements?
Everyone really. I think we all have a responsibility to be conscious of how our words and actions might affect others. I want to believe that the majority of people don’t intentionally harass someone, so I chose these statements to act as a simple prompt for people to be more mindful of their behaviour. I see ‘Be Decent’ as a general pledge for people to just practise common decency, whereas ‘Think Before You Speak’ aims to encourage people to think how their jokes, comments, innuendos or even more explicit harassment might affect the people around them. I think most people would agree that sexual harassment has to stop, so one of the jobs we have now is educating people on the ‘grey area’ and trying to prevent the subconscious harassment.
Where are you directing the funds raised from sales?
After each drop, I donate to any charity or organisation that is working to prevent violence against women. So far, I have donated to ANROWS, a not-for-profit research organisation that produces evidence to support the reduction of violence against women and their children; and Our Watch, the national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
What are some key ways we can all help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?
Aside from the overarching changes like improving employee training, getting more women into leadership roles and increasing accountability, my view is that each person should make the commitment to prevent it. We all need to be mindful of our behaviour and educate ourselves on what is considered sexual harassment. Let’s ask ourselves if the comment we’re about to make could be inappropriate, or if a probing question could make someone feel uncomfortable, or if it’s acceptable to be encroaching on someone’s personal space.
Oh, and buy a t-shirt ;)
This Is A Statement stocks a range of unisex shirts and accessories in all sizes. Browse the range and get yours here.