Even bosses can be sexually harassed — one woman's story about the power of speaking up
—Sarah Cayne has been sexually harassed at work, even when she was the boss. However, Cayne said she has had positive experiences after speaking out against her harassers.
She called from Vancouver to tell Checkup listeners that she believes speaking up when something happens to them, or their coworkers, is the only way to initiate a change in someone's behaviour.
Listen to her conversation with host Duncan McCue below.
Sarah Cayne: I'm calling because I have had the absolute privilege of being raised by a woman who helps support me to have a voice and I use that voice to call out people who have sexually harassed me in my life, which has happened on numerous occasions.
But I've also used that voice to help advocate and support for other people who haven't had that same privilege. That same benefit in their life. And it's so important for people to take the opportunity to speak out when these things happen, because it's important for people to be called out so that they know it's not acceptable.
I had a man in my workplace — and I was in a position of authority — and every day he would greet me by saying, 'hi beautiful, how are you today beautiful?' And so I told him the first time, 'my name is Sarah. Please call me by my name.'
The second time it happened I said, 'my name is Sarah, and you need to call me by that name or there's going to be further consequences to that.'
A third time it happened it was in an elevator full of people. The other times it had happened there was nobody else around. So I said to him loudly, and in front of the other people, 'I've told you two times before not to use that language with me. It is not appropriate. You can call me by my name.'
He never spoke to me again in the work environment which was ideal. It was not necessary for he and I to communicate.
It's so important for men and for women who end up in these types of situations to not let their power be taken away from them.
Duncan McCue: Sarah, let me let me read a tweet that we received. I'm curious to know what your reaction is to it. Patty Davis in Ottawa tweets: "We know it is still common. Perks of power. Perhaps a better question is "Why don't women speak up?""
We know it is still common. Perks of Power. Perhaps a better question is "Why don't women speak up?"—@pattidavisart
SC: It's scary to speak up. It's not easy to speak up. But I've never been one to shy away from something. I've always been the person to say the thing that other people are scared to say.
It's that we have to own our own experiences, and do our best to fight through it. And the more that people bring this to light the more I think that they will realize that people — the majority of managers — they don't want you going through this type of experience.
If you bring sexual harassment in the workplace to your manager's attention, I think that the majority of the time it would be dealt with in a way that would mitigate it from happening in future.
So, if you've got a voice, if you can say something, if you can help speak up for yourself, or for other people, it's wildly important that we do it, because people that are perpetrating it aren't always aware that they're having an impact. If they're not being called out on it, and being made aware of it, then how can they change their behavior?
Those who are aware of it need to be called out on it so that they cannot go on and do it to the next person. You know, 'maybe I'm going to lose my job if this happens again.' Maybe they'll take it a little bit more seriously.
It's very important for us to keep our own power. And it's not to just acquiesce to the person that wants to keep us under their thumb.
All comments have been edited and condensed. To listen to the full interview, click on the link above. This online segment was prepared by Ieva Lucs.