Home / Opinion / We need to look at positive examples to improve safety in Westminster and more importantly get more women into positions of power

We need to look at positive examples to improve safety in Westminster and more importantly get more women into positions of power

Shining a light on any industry is all but certain to show up distasteful and repugnant practices.

Westminster has borne the brunt of claims and counter-claims this week – but it’s not unique to the corridors of power.

 I have not, until now, had a female boss and I am very used to being the only woman in the room I have not, until now, had a female boss and I am very used to being the only woman in the room

I should know.

I have worked in business since the 1980s – racking up 27 years of business experience, from the shop floor of a car factory to international sales and marketing in the technology sector – so I’m pretty wise to the world of business.

Throughout my career I have not, until now, had a female boss and I am very used to being the only woman in the room.

My own experiences suggest that this lack of female representation goes hand in hand with a presumption that I would be the junior person on the team and certainly not empowered to make the decisions.

Inevitably, I have been the butt of many an inappropriate comment and worse. This is thankfully rare and the vast majority of men I have worked with have been highly professional and respectful.

 We must ensure that male MPs under investigation are allowed due processNews Group Newspapers Ltd We must ensure that male MPs under investigation are allowed due process

We have heard from countless women around the world who have been emboldened to tell their stories and what is clear is that such behaviour is prevalent regardless of country, culture, industry or profession.

Such attitudes are perhaps unsurprising given that it is mostly men who sit in positions of power and leadership and sadly, on occasion, they take advantage of that position.

Employees in Westminster who have been subjected to harassment by some MP’s, have been too frightened to speak up, until now where they perhaps feel more confident that they will be heard and action will be taken.

This is the only positive thing to emerge from recent events. Their silence is understandable, perpetuated by the fear of losing your job, or being subjected to unwanted press attention or both and herein lies the problem.

 Parliament does not have truly independent processes in place and this must changePA:Press Association Parliament does not have truly independent processes in place and this must change

It is certainly not unique to Parliament, but we must ensure that male MPs under investigation are allowed due process.

In order to address this, Westminster must draw on examples from the private sector where experienced HR departments have established, independent complaints procedures.

By contrast, Parliament does not have truly independent processes in place and this must change.

During my short time in Parliament I have also observed that many MP’s have limited experience of people management prior to being elected and have not had the invaluable benefit of management training which I continued to receive throughout my business career.

 We are taking steps in the right direction, made possible by pioneers like Theresa May, to focus on getting more women into politicsRex Features We are taking steps in the right direction, made possible by pioneers like Theresa May, to focus on getting more women into politics

Management skills and training are crucial to ensure people in positions of authority are aware of the responsibility this brings in terms of how you treat an employee or junior members of staff.

Ironically, we have a Prime Minister who has campaigned throughout her career for improvements to the protections available for women and genuine equality for both sexes.

In her early career, her voice was notably one of a few where it is now one of many. Clearly, we are taking steps in the right direction, made possible by pioneers like Theresa May who founded Women2Win, to focus on getting more women into politics.

Now we need to implement best-practice and learn from the past, looking at positive examples to improve the safety of those who work in Westminster. And importantly get more women into positions of power.

Lisa Nandy accuse​s ​Theresa May of failing to act over historical Westminster sex claims

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