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What do comments directed at Angela Raynor really tell us?

Jenny Marsden, Director of Services at BrightHR

Shadow Chancellor Angela Rayner has struck out at claims she tried to distract Tory MPs by wearing a skirt, calling them ’sexist’, ‘misogynistic’ and ‘classist’.

The accusations appeared in the Mail on Sunday, with a number of unnamed Tory MPs comparing Ms Rayner to Sharon Stone’s character in the film, Basic Instinct.

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, Ms Rayner said she felt ‘crestfallen’ at the accusations she had deliberately tried to distract PM Boris Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs and called for a ‘culture change’ in Westminster.

Director of Services at BrightHR, Jenny Marsden, weighs in on the story: “Unfortunately, this is an issue that many women continue to face everywhere, particularly in the workplace, as there are still certain expectations placed on how they should look, dress and act.

“Employers should take steps to protect against any form of bullying, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace, which these comments could definitely be construed as.

“There should be a zero-tolerance stance against such and adequate support should be given to those that raise concerns. Employers have a duty of care to their staff and it’s important that no one in their employment should feel that they are being placed at a disadvantage, or subject to inappropriate actions.”

“A robust sexual harassment policy, and clear identification of the consequences of breaching this (usually treated as gross misconduct), should be communicated with all staff members.

“Similarly it is beneficial to provide training to managers and colleagues so they are aware of the signs of sexual harassment and how such issues should be dealt with. It may also help businesses to display signage throughout their workspace to publicly re-iterate to employees, clients, and customers that harassment will not be accepted.

“Extending the scope of policies to include third-parties shows staff that it is taken seriously and that their wellbeing is placed as a priority. Doing so can also help protect the organisation against vicarious liability.

“The “Me Too” movement shone a spotlight on the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace, but businesses should remember that this is an ongoing issue. Employers need to take initiative to stop this re-occurring as those who do so effectively will benefit from creating a culture that all employees are proud to be a part of leading to lower absence levels and turnover rates.”

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