Six evidence-based interventions, adapted from public health models, that archaeology organisations can adopt to measurably reduce harassment
Two new Open Access articles have been published on the topics of harassment in Archaeology:
In addition, the author, Barbara Voss, has also posted a blog article with six evidence-based interventions, adapted from public health models, that archaeology organisations can adopt to measurably reduce harassment
- Listen to survivors and vulnerable members of the discipline. They will know where the problems are and what can be done to stop them. Conduct regular climate surveys and listening sessions to monitor changes in team dynamics. Emphasize that reporting harassment is a courageous act that supports the health of the organization.
- Define harassment as scientific and professional misconduct. Every professional society, university, museum, research institute, and publisher should clearly state that harassment will be taken as seriously as plagiarism, falsification of data, and trafficking in antiquities. In the United States, Congress needs to pass the “Federal Funding Accountability for Sexual Harassers Act,” which would require institutions to formally report verified harassment on federally funded research projects.
- Establish an independent, global harassment reporting hotline with powers to investigate reports of harassment and resources to support survivors. In Great Britain, the Chartered Institute of Field Archaeologists has partnered with a non-profit organization to provide channels for reporting outside of organizational chains of command.
- Require codes of conduct with clear mechanisms of enforcement for all archaeology research and educational programs. This has been shown to dramatically reduce harassment on field projects. Every permitting agency, research funder, lab facility, and museum can incentivize this practice by making codes of conduct a required element of any application or request.
- Change organizational procedures to reduce potential abuses of power by gatekeepers. Install checks and balances in academic advising and workplace supervision to mitigate early-career archaeologists’ vulnerability. For funding, permits, hiring, and other high-stakes career decisions, establish open and transparent procedures with decision-making power vested in committees or boards rather than individuals.
- Include training in interpersonal skills as part of education and mentorship for archaeology and other team-based sciences. Along with awareness of team dynamics and conflict management for research leadership, upstander training empowers all team members to intervene in harassment and to use their character strengths to build safe and inclusive team dynamics.
Prospect has reach out to us to share a report on harassment they conducted and their similar recommendations:
• Strong leadership is crucial
Workplace leaders, whether management or activists, must definitively commit to the challenge of tackling sexual harassment. It is essential that they know how that translates into practice. A strong statement of intent, followed by weak or inappropriate action, actively undermines trust in the workplace to deal with misconduct. Workplace leaders, from the chief executive down, must understand their role in supporting culture change, and have a plan in place to deal with disclosures of misconduct.
• Create diverse, respectful workplace cultures
Sexual harassment is not the responsibility of ‘a few bad apples’ – it is a cultural problem. The strongest protection against sexual harassment is a shift towards a respectful workplace culture, predicated on values of diversity and inclusion. Lasting culture change is often driven by the grassroots, whilst being supported from the top. Importantly, every worker must feel safe and supported to challenge behaviour that makes them, or their colleagues, uncomfortable.
• Tackle the most common forms of sexual harassment
The vast majority of sexual harassment in workplaces is ‘low-level’, verbal hostility: sexist jokes, unwanted comments on appearance. This background harassment is degrading and humiliating in its own right. It also paints a picture of permissiveness towards sexism, supporting progression to more aggressive, more severe types. A workplace that is serious about stopping sexual harassment must understand the full spectrum, and make clear that no form of sexism or discrimination will be tolerated.
• Diffuse the power relationships
Power relationships exist in all workplaces: hierarchies and decision-making structures; social networks; demographic imbalances. Some serve a useful purpose, but any may be subject to abuse. Workplaces should ‘map’ their organisational power dynamics, formal and informal, and manage the risks they present.
• Support the targets of sexual harassment
Most sexual harassment is unreported, because the victims don’t trust their workplaces to deal with it appropriately, or in a way that protects them. We recommend a system for dealing with disclosures of sexual harassment that gives autonomy back to the victim: laying out a range of possible actions, and alternative sources of support, for them to choose how to proceed, if they choose to proceed at all. Where the targets of sexual harassment feel safe to disclose it, the workplace has the best chance of tackling the problem.