Ways to avoid becoming a sex pest

With all the murk that has been thrown at me and the Palino campaign in an attempt to distract from Len Brown’s personal failings and his dodgy behaviour people have missed several points.

With regards to the affair it was never about the sex…it was always about the power relationship…Len Brown thinks that he can take advantage of a much younger woman, granting her favours regarding references, jobs and then perks including ?what can really only be described as “quickie sex”. Never mind the serious code of conduct breaches.

With all the other evidence piling up in the tipline inbox that needs investigating it seems to me that there is a real problem with Len Brown that transcends a simple affair between consenting adults.

The Guardian has an article that applies in every way to the situation that Len Brown finds himself in.

Following?an incident in which a female science blogger was called an ?urban whore? for not writing a guest post for free,?writer and playwright Monica Byrne?updated a year-old?post detailing an encounter in which she was sexually harassed, with the revelation that the person in question was Bora Zivkovic, Blogs Editor for Scientific American and a figurehead for the science writing community.?Zivkovic confirmed?that the incident happened, and many people were left confused and shocked.

Except it turns out that what happened to Byrne may not have been an isolated incident. A Scientific American blogger, Hannah Waters, then posted claims about?her experiences with Zivkovic. It has been heartbreaking to see the ensuing flood of stories about personal harassment, abuse, and the legacy of trauma and?self-doubt?that it leaves. At the same time, it is encouraging to see that many people feel they are now able to come forward and talk about their experiences, and that many are trying to reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs, and learn from the mistakes of others.

So how can leaders combat this pernicious culture of sexism and abuse of power??

And it was clearly an abuse of power…In a CV of Bevan Chuang’s from December 2011, in the middle of their affair Len Brown is listed as the primary referee…the clear inference to anyone reading such a reference that Len Brown endorses this woman. Power…influence.


As the article excerpt above explains, if there is one ‘victim’ then there are likely others…it is only a matter of time before thy come forward, indeed some already have.

People in positions of power need to recognise the power trap.

Power can feed an overinflated sense of your own importance. This, in turn, can lead you to say things to junior people that you wouldn?t serve up to your colleagues or seniors. It can also lead you to disregard input from junior team members. For instance, do you find yourself talking over people in your team meetings, particularly women? Do you ever catch yourself?mansplaining? Learn the signs and avoid it.

It?s important to be aware of how unconscious bias can influence the decisions we make as leaders. One classic bias you should avoid is selecting people to manage or mentor based on how attractive you find them.?Research tells us?that attractiveness plays a major role in hiring decisions. But it shouldn?t, and those who know about this bias have a duty to oppose it.

Women already go through their lives being judged based on their appearance and maternal prowess rather than their achievements or intelligence. If you?re in a position of leadership, it?s your responsibility to oppose this sexism. Make your professional team a microenvironment where both men and women can escape being evaluated based on the superficial bullshit that dominates so much of society.

This, rather than the sex, is the nub of Len Brown’s problem, that also led to him making poor choices in offering references, appointing her to boards, emplying her as his “interpreter”. His discretion and logic was impaired.

Len Brown constantly goes on about how great he is and how much he loves the city…if it is as much as his wife then he is rooting around on the city too. He needs to remember the goals of leadership.

It isn?t easy being in charge. One useful tip is to remember that the ultimate measure of you as a leader isn?t how much you ?get done? but the way you treat the most junior and vulnerable people in your team. If you exploit them for your own pleasure or ego then you surrender the right to lead.

For us, hearing about the extent to which sexism is endemic within our culture over the last week has brought home how important it is for everyone to play a role in changing things for the better. Hopefully we can turn this in to something positive ? a chance for everyone to learn, improve, and create more supportive working environments.

That article from the Guardian is all about Len Brown. He needs to take ownership for just how badly he has damaged the reputation of himself and of his city he professes to love and resign. He and the city have become a laughing stock. He has broken almost every rule and guideline in the code of conduct, breaches that would see employees of the city sacked if in a similar position. The fact that he can;t see that shows just how impaired his judgement really is.