How can I support those affected? Learn more about possible measures that executives and lecturers can take and where those seeking help can find support.
Allyship – Supporting those affected
"Well, sweetie?" - Sexualised discrimination can cause illness and poison the working atmosphere. If you observe sexualised discrimination or violence in your work or study environment, help the person affected. Be aware of your own boundaries and only offer the help you can. For the person affected, talking to an uninvolved person is often a difficult and courageous step, because they usually have to continue working with the same people in their work or study environment for a long period. It’s important to remember that the persons affected often tend to blame themselves. Make it clear that only the discriminating person is responsible for their actions.
- Resistance begins in seemingly inconspicuous situations: Do not laugh along when sexist comments or jokes are made. Make it clear to the person making such remarks that their behaviour is discriminatory and unacceptable.
- Talk to the person in your work or study environment if you suspect or witness that they are being sexually discriminated.
- Take your time for having such a conversation and create an atmosphere of trust. Tell the person concerned objectively what you have observed and offer them your help.
- Offer to search for counselling services or to accompany them if you can.
- Important: Don't do anything that the person affected does not want.
- Make it clear to the person affected that only the harassing person is responsible for their misconduct.
As an executive, you play an important role in preventing and intervening in cases of sexualised discrimination and violence at the workplace. Be aware that you set an example and have significant influence in creating a respectful and safe working environment for everyone. Last but not least, as a supervisor you have a duty of care and must protect those affected. If you become aware of a case of sexualised discrimination and violence in the work environment you're in charge of, you must act immediately and consistently. The obligation to act derives from the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG), the Saxon Act on Women's Advancement (SächsFFG) and the Service Agreement on Conflict Resolution (Dienstvereinbarung zur Konfliktlösung am Arbeitsplatz) workplaces.
These recommendations for action are intended to help you to create a safe working environment for your employees:
- Take a clear stance against sexualised discrimination and violence at work, e.g. point out the university's relevant support services.
- Take a clear stance by adopting a strong leadership style of zero-tolerance policy on violence. Promote an open culture of discussion within the team so that workplace issues can be raised, addressed and resolved.
- Focus on common goals and interests in order to create a climate of solidarity among the team.
- Make use of further topic-specific training courses.
- In cooperation with relevant institutions and counselling centres, establish a firm policy on how to deal with complaints of sexualised discrimination and violence. Provide information material and distribute it.
- Act quickly and consistently in the event of complaints and pass them on to the Complaints Office in accordance with the General Equal Treatment Act.
- Pressure, unclear roles and work processes facilitate sexualised discrimination and violence in workplaces. Continuously monitor and optimise the organisation of your team's work.
An appreciative and respectful working atmosphere impacts the performance and productivity of your employees. Actively promote a working environment characterised by mutual respect and boundary maintenance. Intervene. Take responsibility.
In order to discuss and investigate difficult topics such as sexualised discrimination and violence in lectures and classes, content warnings (also known as trigger warnings) can be given in beforehand in order to protect oneself and students from emotional harm. Persons who may have experienced sexualised discrimination or violence themselves are thus not overwhelmed by potentially painful situations and can enter the learning situation prepared. The State Conference of Equal Opportunities Officers of Universities and University Clinics in North Rhine-Westphalia has published a handout with practical tips on how and in which situations content warnings should be used in order to prevent trauma among students. Content warnings do not lead to censorship. They can even help to prevent self-censorship when dealing with sensitive topics. A content warning can, for example, be implemented like this: "Continuous warning in the module catalogue:":
Continuous reference in the module catalogue: This seminar series discusses sexualised violence as well as trans* and queerphobia at various points. For further information contact: N.N.
Support services and ways to help youself
Do not doubt your own perception and trust your instincts. Nobody has the right to violate your boundaries. If possible, defend yourself against sexualised discrimination or violence in your work or study environment.
Make it decisively clear to the person concerned that you feel sexually discriminated against and announce consequences. Face the person clearly, calmly and confidently. Speak slowly and loudly enough so that those around you become aware of the situation. If necessary, ask others explicitly for help.
Keep a memory protocol in order to document the assault as well as possible witnesses. Try to find someone you trust to plan further steps. This can be a person within your circle of acquaintances, friends or family, or even psychological or legal support from official counselling centres.
It is important not to blame yourself. Only the discriminating person is responsible for their actions. Clearly speaking out or complaining will not harm your own reputation or career. People who discriminate have usually attracted negative attention before without anyone stepping in. Therefore, you should take your own feelings seriously and respond firmly.
Support and Contact Centers
In any case, there are a number of points of contact you can turn to – in confidence – to report your concerns or seek advice on what to do next:
- Commissioner for Equal Opportunities and women's representative
- Psychosocial Counselling from the Leipzig Student Services (Studentenwerk Leipzig)
- Psychosocial Services from the Student Council
- Commissioners for Equal Opportunities of the Faculties and Central Institutions
- Staff Council
- Student_innenRat (Student Council)
- Student Advisory Service
- Youth and apprentice representation
The following counsellors will inform you for free about your rights and entitlements and, if necessary, refer you to other relevant counselling centres:
- Violence against women support hotline
Counselling in 17 languages and German sign language
- Women's emergency hotline and women's counseling center – Frauen für Frauen e.V. Leipzig
- Beratungsstelle Leipzig der Opferhilfe Sachsen
- Leipzig location of the Antidiscrimination Office Saxony e.V.
- Contact for LGBTTIQ* of the police department Leipzig
- Initial legal advice from the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency
Consultation in German Sign Language and German Plain Language
In the event of sexualised discrimination or violence, employees can contact the complaints department under the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG). Complaints can also be addressed to the Commissioner for Equal Opportunities. They will advise and support you in dealing with the consequences of discrimination and in exercising your rights. You can be accompanied at every step by a person you trust, also from outside the University.
- Beschwerdestelle nach Allgemeinem Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (AGG) Martin Wißmiller, Goethestraße 6, Raum 516, 04109 Leipzig Telefon: 0341 97-33002 E-Mail schreiben
- Gleichstellungsbeauftragter Georg Teichert, Nikolaistraße 6-10, Raum 3.55, 04109 Leipzig Telefon: 0341 97-30090 E-Mail schreiben
What are possible consequences?
Superiors are obligated to initiate the investigations necessary to review the complaint and, if sexualised discrimination is confirmed, to take disciplinary action or other measures under labour law as appropriate in the individual case. In addition, the discriminating person may be subject to sanctions, such as a warning, dismissal, ban from the premises or disciplinary proceedings.