Time to call harassment “sexploitation”

Hiring women who risk exposure to sexual harassment is sexploitation

Hiring women into situations where they risk sexual harassment moves into the territory of sexploitation. It should be illegal.

In an era when almost every day brings about a news exposé concerning sexual harassment or sexual misconduct or simply sexism, it seemed there was not much left to shock. I was wrong. The scoop by the journalist Madison Marriage at the Financial Times focussed on the darker side of an annual up-scale charity event. It was the President’s Ball which took place in London last week. It went that one step further. The outright sexploitation of a group of women hired specifically for the occasion.


The great and the good

A group of 360 very powerful and influential male business leaders came together for a men only fund-raiser. Prizes on auction included  lunch with Boris Johnson, tea with the Bank of England Governor, Range Rovers and opportunities to “Spice Up Your Wife” with plastic surgery prizes. Leading figures such as David Meller, a Director on the board of the Department for Education and Chair of the Apprenticeships Delivery Board, was in attendance. He stepped down shortly after the release of the article. Many well-known senior figures from all sectors of industry, politics and business were on the seating plan, although it is not known if they physically attended.

Are you the sort of leader who will stand up for those around you? Find out with 3Plus’ Leadership Assessment.

Beyond harassment to sexploitation

But this event goes beyond the usual and horrific charges of sexual harassment. It goes into the territory of sexploitation. Approximately 130 hostesses were hired for the evening, via an agency called Artista, based on their appearance. They were asked to wear skimpy black dresses and matching underwear. Further to this, they were required to sign a five-page non-disclosure document, which they weren’t given the opportunity to read. Told that some of the men could be “annoying” the reality was that:

“Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.”

Annoying is not saying please and thank you, or spilling a drink on your best dress. Not grabbing your backside or other body parts and suggesting you take your “knickers off and dance on the table.” That is offensive and assault.

It is one thing to experience random sexual harassment as part of a job or every day life. It is another thing altogether to be deliberately misled about the nature of an event and the sexual undertones and risks involved. This is outright sexploitation and the full force of the law should impact those involved.

Complicit enablers

Just as we saw in the Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar exposures, there was a cohort of complicit enablers feeding unsuspecting ignorant and ill-informed women and even girls into situations for which they were inadequately prepared. It is also time for there to be more specific action taken against third-party sexual harassment. In the U.K. these provisions have been removed from the Equality Act but need to be reinstated. That is: we need to also go after the enablers and bystanders.

In an era when less than 40% of men openly support gender balance and are responsible for 85% of all business decisions, they do these things because they can. This is why movements like #TimesUp are gaining momentum. It has to stop.

Unconscious Biases are inevitable. Make sure they don’t overrun your company by getting involved in our Managing Unconscious Bias Workshops.

3Plus, 3Plus online e-Gazine for professional women, Culture, Executive Search and Recruitment, Sexism and Sexual Harassment
Staff Writer: Gender Balance
Staff Writer: Gender Balance
Email |
If you feel passionate about gender balance and topical issues impacting women in the workplace 3Plus would be delighted to publish your work. Don't wait - send it tin

Leave a Reply

Found that interesting? Learn more about our services
Individual services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
more info
Corporate services
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
more info
Upcoming events
Currently we don't have upcoming events
Download and listen free podcasts
Why all women need a strong LinkedIn profile
Free Download

Data on women on LinkedIn has always been hard to get and analyse, but some new information sheds light on how women use the platform differently to their male colleagues and what those differences mean. You will find out why you need a strong LinkedIn profile.

It has always been difficult to identify women on LinkedIn because it’s not possible to do a search based on gender. Any efforts to track women on LinkedIn specifically, involve complex Boolean strings involving pronouns or searching via women’s clubs, universities and networks. So any analysis has always been more anecdotal around perceptions and personal experience, rather than data based. However research from 2017  using LinkedIn member profile data for members in the United States over the past 12 months. Published on the LinkedIn blog it supports pretty much what we already know about women on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn  is the main professional data base used globally by hiring managers and recruiters, yet women continue to engage less than their male colleagues, putting themselves at a distinct professional disadvantage. Now we have some facts and figures as well as tips and tricks to persuade  you to up your game. All women have to have a strong LinkedIn profile. No ifs and buts.


How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters
Free Download

In this power coaching podcast, we’re going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple times a week by active job seekers and passive candidates.

How can I get noticed by head hunters and recruiters and connect with them?

In this short power coaching podcast Dorothy Dalton shares some tips and tricks to make sure that you are always on the radar of the recruitment and search specialists who can be most helpful to you. With extensive experience in executive search and corporate HR Dorothy has placed, coached and trained thousands of men and women to career success. As a career coach she has a deep understanding of the job search market and what job seekers need to do to position themselves to they are easily found.

As CEO of 3Plus she also has deep experience of the challenges women face in the workplace. Sadly because women tend not to create career strategies they can be vulnerable when it comes to dealing with change. Regular transitions become career crises. In this short session you will learn some simple tips and tricks to make sure you are on the radar of key recruitment specialists in your sector, geography or function.  It’s not rocket science.





One of the most puzzling things about working in executive search is that people and I say this reluctantly particularly women fail to plan ahead. You’ve heard me say before that only 5% of women have a career strategy. This means that they are not prepared for any emergencies until they become a crisis.


Goal setting tips to boost your career
Free Download

The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and the upcoming work week. So how do you get to a place where you look forward to a new week of doing what satisfies you? You’ll have to either learn to love your current role, or make a commitment to pursue your dream job. Use these goal setting tips to help you get to where you want to be.

Some women choose the latter, and to do so you’ll have to set career goals to get where you want to be. So make sure you have a detailed plan on how to land a job that you will tick all the boxes.

The majority of women choose to stay in their own organizations and even then you still need to have goals, not just KPis set by your manager. But even if you do see your career developing within your current business it’s still important to set goals.

Many women struggle with career planning and creating a career strategy which can lead to problems. This makes them vulnerable to and sort of challenge which can moprh into a full blown career crisis. Some simple steps to plan and prepare can help avoid this.

Take a look at these goal setting tips to help boost your career and set you on the right path.

Lewis Carroll  said

If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.”

Research shows that only about 5% of women create career goals and a career strategy. This can have a negative impact on your career progression. It means you are reactive not proactive and career glitches can morph into full blown crises. It puts women at a clear disadvantage to men.

Learn these simple goal setting tips to boost your career and protect and prepare you for all eventualities. If these goal setting tips make you think that you could use some further help,  contact us immediately.


When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage
Free Download

There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about  female rivalry and competition between women. Some of it makes sense and some of it is confusing. Organizations are pyramids with fewer roles at the top than at the bottom. It is inevitable that at some level, as more and more women are in the talent pipeline, at some point they will be in competition with other women.

Many would say that women aren’t competitive. I would suggest re-framing that. I think it’s more accurate to say they are not as competitive in the workplace as men. We have also been made to feel guilty about being competitive. We need to get over that.  Here are the reasons:

  1. The male nature of corporate culture makes it a disincentive to compete
  2. Women don’t want to compete because  prescribed male goals are not attractive enough for them. “Work 14 hour days, not see my partner or family … get sick.. die..no thanks.. I’ll pass”
  3. Women don’t know how to compete in the workplace. They are new arrivals on the corporate competition scene and lack practise.
  4. Women experience gender blow back when they do compete, from both men and women
  5. Women have been raised to think that competing with other women is not empowering them. As more women enter the talent pipeline that is just nonsense.

Learn some insights from Annabel Kaye, Employment Law Expert about how it’s OK to be competitive and the danger zone when it can turn into sabotage. Understand the benefits of mutual support and how all women can profit from having strong strategic allies, role models and mentors.