There’s a few gaps between a good culture and a bad culture and more variable than just one bad egg.
Like anything else its your people and what we know about people is we are complex and we’ve lived full varied lives that have lead us to be in a particular workplace.
The thing about a workplace, particularly FIFO is it’s unique to any other sector.
You not only work together, you fly to work drive home, eat, do washing, gym, socialize and potentially sleep next door to each other.
Maybe not so bad in a male dominated industry just a decade ago. Add diversity in to that, which is beneficial and inevitable for progress. You live together and without approaching some key reasons why this may not have gone well.
I believe to some extent, we have all missed some essential learnings and
that will create a safe, diverse and respectful society and workplace.
A majority of crew are trying to do the right thing.
Get up early. Go to work. Get on with their day safely, get home, sleep and do it all again the next day for 12 hours.
“In my first 2 weeks. I was called over to a table in the bar. This in itself was a red flag.
I was then asked:
‘What would you do if I bent you over the table?’
With the 8 or so other guys eyes all looking eagerly and awkwardly. Some I know wanted to say something but didn’t others going along for the ride.
I was shocked, embarrassed and humiliated but, I was a 30 something year old woman at the time with 10-20 other experiences and reactions under my belt.”
They either wouldn’t ever be, or they restrain them self from making someone else feel uncomfortable or being in questionable situations.
But for some. Depending on upbringing, values, circumstance, beliefs and their understanding of what respect is and how you show it, they’re making a few questionable decisions that have prompted an inquiry into harassment.
I think we are all either blissfully unaware or the culture has gone under the radar for decades. Now it’s under the telescope.
For the most part, my 2 years in mining was enjoyable. I had great banter, a good laugh, I developed valuable skills, formed some great and long lasting friendships and learned and grew with some great humans.
I also had some experiences which left me questioning my own beliefs, self worth, my own understanding and what I have tolerated before and what I was willing to tolerate again.
I’d love to share with you my first.
I’d worked in hospitality, the wellness industry, travelled the world so I russled up some courage and took this an opportunity.
I said something along the lines of:
‘I would watch you on a window seat home, because if you say that to me again, that’s where you’ll be’
I was pretty stoked to be honest. Proud that among the embarrassment and humiliation I still stood up for myself. I thought.
The systemic issues then arose when I told a work collogue what had happened and I was met with:
‘That’s just FIFO’
Ummmm. Sorry? What?
Im I was shocked. Deflated but I also wanted to fit in and after only being there for 2 weeks I kept my head down and I did what I could to “fit in, or f&@& off”.
Upon reflection like I said, There were so many variables that lead to just that one moment.
Now. We all know that realistically and in a perfect world it wouldn’t have happened,
I wouldn’t have been called over at all, that guy wouldn’t have dare ever degraded another human like that if he had of been shown and taught by society, peers and mentors that that’s not only inappropriate, not funny but uncalled for.
His mates would have stopped him and had a conversation before it got to that point.
His mates would have said ‘cmon mate. That’s not on’
I may have felt more comfortable and been equiped to say that’s inappropriate and unacceptable.
My colleague would have said ‘wow. That’s not ok. Are you ok? Let me show you what you need to do and who you need to speak to’
A manger would have helped me with the process of reporting. I would have been believed, supported and encouraged
If this guy wasn’t self conscious that he was trying fit in with his mates
Or if he had of been surrounded by other people both at home, at work and within his friend group he would respect everyone and not treat me or other women like an object.
If social media, society, movies and tv shows weren’t saturated with degrading and disrespectful language and behaviours
If he hadn’t grown up without valuable mentors guiding him to respect others as he would himself.
If he felt valued, loved, heard and seen in what ever his experiences were leading him to that point.
If he didn’t potentially see someone he loved and respected do the same thing to a women or someone else.
If it weren’t for gender roles making him feel like he has to be ‘a man’, never show emotion or vulnerability, and make himself feel superior to me, women or anybody else.
If women weren’t showcased as objects throughout history
If pornography were to even exist at all it would showcase consent and respect and what being intimate truely looks like in all of its mess and awkwardness.
It would show a varied array of people, sizes, colours, abilities without being fetishised.
Sexual choices and preferences would be celebrated and not shamed for all genders.
If we weren’t only told how not to get STDs, or get pregnant and instead taught consent, respect and communication.
If we were shown how to have mutually respectful relationships with communication and compassion.
If we were all taught to have our own boundaries, communicate and respect other people’s boundaries.
There were so many variables that lead to that moment both for him, his friends, my colleague and for me so it’s going to take a lot more than a few posters, a cartoon indication video to change it. But I’m hopeful. You have to be.
It’s a cultural change, a systemic societal change and a global issue that’s been made apparent in the FIFO industry.
It’s an opportunity for the sector to showcase what changes can be made, what things can be done and what a respectful workplace and world can look like.