ROCHESTER, Minn. – The MeToo movement continues to bring awareness to sexual assault and harassment. The awareness in our area is turning into action.
“Rochester along with our broader U.S. community has a problem with sexual harassment,” Terri Allred with the Women’s Shelter said.
She is one of the leaders starting the Sexual Harassment Task Force. She said something like this is needed because traditional sexual harassment training simply isn’t cutting it.
“The whole this is sexual harassment is, this is our policy, this is what happens if you do it, that's not actually changing people's behavior,” Terri said. “So what we’re trying to help businesses and organizations in our community do is shift to a focus of respectful workplace culture. When you have a respectful work place culture then all forms of harassment are minimized.”
The task force has three goals: increase community awareness about sexual harassment, offer intervention and prevention training to area organizations, and create a support network for people affected by sexual harassment.
It’s already seeing progress on it’s first goal.
“I’m excited because I see change already happening even before the task force meeting,” she said.
The initiative started with The Women’s Shelter and Diversity Council, and quickly other organizations including RCTC Workforce Development, Planned Parenthood, and Olmsted County Human Rights Commission, also joined in.
Addressing this issue hits close to home for Terri.
“I just started thinking about the hundreds of times I’ve been sexually harassed,” she said.
She also sees it in her day to day work when she gives prevention trainings.
“We go out into the audiences and every single woman has had an experience of sexual harassment in the work place. So, for me, I just feel really hopeful that some young woman will understand this is not okay and then have the tools to say stop,” she said.
The creation of the task force and the services it plans to offer, like prevention training and support groups, are free.
Members of the community are encouraged to join the meeting and the dialogue about sexual harassment in the Rochester area.
The first Sexual Harassment Task Force meeting will be held at 125 Live on Tuesday, April 24 at 5:30pm.