#metoo Fashion Edition
The New Zealand fashion industry has been slower in having its own #metoo moment however recent allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment has resurfaced in the last week, bringing the industry into the spotlight alongside other local creative industries such as Weta Workshop and Weta Digital.
The #metoo movement has made it clear that sexual predators can no longer rely on hiding in the shadows and can be called out. Sexual predation has no place in any industry however there will not be any change unless leading figures in industries take a stand and put their money where their mouths are.
New Zealand is a small place and in such industries, everybody knows everybody and the power imbalance is enormous – there is a real fear that speaking out about inappropriate behaviour against people in a position of actual or perceived power could be career limiting or even career cancelling.
It starts from the top – stop facilitating creepy and unwanted behaviour in the name of ‘creativity’ or assume it will go away because the person won’t dare take the matter further as to not destroy their career. Stop turning a blind eye.
Industries and organisations need to remember – not being the actual harasser does not negate culpability. There is an (incorrect) assumption that you can just apportion blame to a party and move on – however under Heath & Safety at Work (2015) legislation, employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace and as far as reasonable practicable, eliminate work risks and anything that can potentially cause harm – including sexual harassment. Doing nothing is a risk in and of itself.
As sexual harassment is a common and known source of harm, industries and organisations are expected to have processes in place to effectively deal with it as outlined in Section 69 of the Human Rights Act 1993.