‘Culture-changing’ scheme launched to combat sexual harassment in workplace

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‘Culture-changing’ scheme launched to combat sexual harassment in workplace

Initiative by Jewish Women's Aid seeks to ensure the “safety and respect” of all employees and volunteers working in community organisations.

Jewish Women’s Aid has launched the UK’s first ever faith-based scheme to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

The charity said its “culture-changing” programme includes compulsory training and monitoring to ensure the “safety and respect” of all employees and volunteers working in Jewish community organisations.

The scheme, which is supported by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), is being trialled at five organisations, before being rolled out across the community.

JWA said it consulted widely in developing its programme, speaking to small, medium and large Jewish organisations, but that only one had adequate policies and practices in-place to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

“It is absolutely crucial that everyone working for a Jewish community organisation feels safe from any kind of sexual harassment,” said the Board’s chief executive Gillian Merron.

“To ensure that happens we need to have the correct procedures in-place which will not only protect those involved in communal organisations but also give them the confidence that harassers will be identified and dealt with. By taking this proactive step we are setting an example which we hope others will follow.”

JLC chief executive Simon Johnson added: “It is vitally important that we all work in an environment where we feel safe in every regard. We hope that this programme with encourage more organisations to look at their policies and practices.”

The five participating organisation are Finchley Road culture centre JW3, UK-Israel charity UJIA, humanitarian aid charity WJR, employment charity Resource, and the Movement for Reform Judaism.

JW3 chief executive Raymond Simonson said he “felt ashamed” after reading a 2017 report identifying sexual harassment in Jewish workplaces, adding: “It is absolutely right that we hold communal institutions to the highest possible standards, and we need all senior community leaders to be part of this important conversation.”

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