Could HR solve...? Friends with Benefits

A new staff member is posed awkward questions about his sexuality

The problem

GQ magazine’s new art director, Dylan Harper, is put in an uncomfortable position when his colleague, sports editor Tommy Bollinger, makes assumptions about his sexuality and openly propositions him on his first day in his new role. But could inclusion and diversity training have stopped this from happening? 

The solution

Bollinger’s conduct towards Harper amounts to sexual harassment, says Monica Stancu, diversity and inclusion manager at Lloyd’s of London. She points out that this behaviour doesn’t just severely impact the victim, but also the business. 

“Sexual harassment has a negative impact on the organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent, as well as on its culture and engagement levels,” she says. 

She adds that employers must take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and those should include robust inclusion and diversity, anti-bullying and harassment policies which set “clear expectations of behaviour”. 

As a member of the senior leadership team, Stancu points out that Harper should naturally be aware of such policies and should be able to point his colleagues – especially Bollinger – in the right direction. A good suite of I&D training options, adds Stancu, would not only outline how to raise complaints, but also “empower peers and leaders to support each other”. 

“A diverse and inclusive workforce where everyone feels safe and respected is key to unlocking excellence, and we can all benefit from that,” she says.