Sexual harassment in the workplace is more common that you think. Sadly it’s more often women who experience the unwanted, humiliating attention and the problem is widespread, across all communities and organisations. The Jewish community is no exception.

More than half (52 per cent) of young women (aged 18-24) have suffered sexual harassment at work, according to a TUC report in 2016. Incredibly, eight out of ten of them did not report it to their employer.

This should no longer be tolerated.

That’s why we have launched the UK’s first faith-based scheme to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. It is a three-year campaign – the first year is a pilot with five Jewish organisations who are bravely and transparently holding the mirror up to their own culture and policies. It’s not because they are dealing with allegations of sexual harassment, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA) has designed the project supported by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, and I hope it will be rolled out across all UK-based Jewish organisations.

The sexual harassment project – which is being run by JWA - offers support and training to the Jewish community to create respectful workplaces which are safe to disclose sexual harassment, and to create culture change in the Jewish community. The initiative involves undertaking an anonymous online survey about workplace culture and sexual harassment as well as attending three workshops.

The organisations will develop policy and procedures to ensure any reported incidents are dealt with appropriately. And there will be ongoing support from a JWA representative to ensure organisations continue to embed the programme. Face-to-face and other forms of training will also be provided to employees, volunteers and lay leaders.

The initiative follows heightened awareness around unacceptable behaviour in society in general, including the #MeToo movement and a recent government report on a zero tolerance approach towards sexual harassment.

At JWA, we have 30 years of experience in this field with specialist knowledge of violence against women and girls in the Jewish community. It is from this background of expertise and deep understanding that we were asked to be involved in this unique and hugely important scheme.

But praise must go to the Jewish Chronicle. Not only have they asked to become the sixth organisation to join the pilot scheme. They were the first to shine a spotlight on this incredibly important issue. The newspaper carried reports in November 2017, from six women who have worked in UK-based Jewish communal organisations. It was alleged that these women were not supported by their employers, once they had informed them of incidents of sexual harassment. Some of these women also indicated an alleged ‘culture’ within their organisations where they felt they were unable to disclose due to fear. We felt this needed to be addressed urgently.

I am pleased that we were able to secure funding for the pilot year from Rosa, a Charitable Trust set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the UK - we now need financial support to fund the following two years of the project which will allow us to roll it out and effect culture change across the UK Jewish community and beyond.

Help us to help everyone. We all have the right to be safe at work.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, contact our new Dina Service Support Line on 0800 801 0656 or email [email protected] The Dina Service supports Jewish women affected by rape or sexual assault, and sexual harassment. To donate to support this new service, please click here.