You'd have to be an industry insider, or at least expecting to receive an award, to want to sit through the entire Golden Globe 75th Awards Celebration in Beverly Hills this week.

The highlights on TV lasted five hours. I endured two hours. I was put off by all the women who won awards using most of their acceptance speech to talk about showing solidarity for women. Women who had been sexually harassed in the film and entertainment industry.

Some went further and talked about no longer accepting abuse towards women in all its forms and in other workplaces. I wasn't impressed with this show of solidarity. It requires much more than talk from beautiful, talented, wealthy people.

You'd think sexual harassment in the workplace was some recent phenomenon. It isn't.

They praised the women in the industry who had just spoken out and disclosed their experiences. What they had tolerated and stomached. It bugs me that these actresses have only now chosen to speak out because it's their jobs and careers that are being impacted.

Advertisement

Unless you are personally affected you don't get involved. Women have been harassed, propositioned and sexually abused in the workplace for decades. Even after the introduction of a plethora of workplace practices and codes of conduct meant to protect them, introduced worldwide in developed countries over the past 50 years. What you can't regulate though is human behaviour. The base kind. Often found in those who hold positions of power wielding it on the weak and vulnerable.

The allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein kicked things off. Apparently he's the last person a beautiful young actress would want to be alone in a hotel room with. Whether you were unknown, just starting off or high profile, sadly you'd think twice before rejecting the advances of a man who could crush and ruin your career in an instant. He must have had an exceptional strike rate because he survived as a Hollywood producer for 40 years. The women who have made allegations against him, actors and other men prominent in the entertainment industry would be just the tip of the iceberg.

To challenge and take on these powerful men you would have to be organised. More than 300 actresses, writers and directors have launched a project to help fight sexual harassment in the film industry and other workplaces. The initiative called Time's Up is described as a "unified call for change from women for women everywhere". It also calls for "gender inequality and the imbalance of power" to be addressed.

Their intentions are admirable. I just hope Time's Up won't be an overnight wonder. Sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is widespread the world over. United Nations reports detail just how widespread. It's a pity Time's Up has appeared so late in the day. There are thousands of women working in low paid, unglamorous jobs in the United States who could have used their help and support years ago. You'll find them in factories, restaurants and shops. They're cleaners in hotels and hospitals and work as domestics and nannies. They come from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities. They are vulnerable and deserving of help too. Where the workforce is predominantly women you will find abuse.

It's one thing to know what goes on but to be prepared to do something about it requires commitment and courage. When the actresses' black gowns, worn at the awards in support of Time's Up, are packed away and the lapel pins and badges removed from suits, what next? You have to be in for the long haul. The women who spoke powerfully at the awards ceremony will be hoping that conditions will change rapidly after their show of solidarity for working women. Looking at the audience at the glamour event you got a sense that change needed to come and they seemed glad that someone was saying so. This show of confidence is what encourages women to no longer sit silent. They can speak up knowing their reputations and careers are not at stake.

But solidarity means the spotlight must also shine on the women working in the less glamorous, low paid jobs. They need voices to be raised on their behalf.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a Rotorua district councillor, Lakes District Health Board member and chairs the North Island Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart political correctness.