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Katherine Teh-White

Katherine Teh-White is the founder of Working Against Sexual Harassment (WASH).

Inducted:
2003
Category:
Honour Roll

Katherine Teh-White is one of the 60% of women in Australia who have been sexually harassed in their workplace. However, she didn't remain silent. The experience made her determined to help other women in the same situation.

Born in Brisbane, Katherine grew-up in Malaysia until the age of six when her family moved to Melbourne. She started an economics degree at university, but switched to an arts degree when she successfully gained a cadetship with The Age newspaper where she worked for five years before moving to The Australian. Katherine has an arts degree in politics and communication from Deakin University and has undertaken post-graduate studies at the Boston College for Corporate Citizenship.

Katherine knows from a personal perspective how unfair the workplace culture and the law has been in the past regarding sexual harassment. There were no advocates for action, no women's groups that recognised it as an issue and no self-help groups. When Katherine experienced sexual harassment in her workplace she pursued action under the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 and sought to change the public policy environment so that others didn't have to face the same difficulties and fears.

She brought together a range of women's groups to found WASH, which has successfully put the issue of sexual harassment on the public agenda. WASH has called for the strengthening of legislation in Victoria, funding for an advocate for sexual harassment victims and grass roots consultation with victims. WASH has joined with the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA House) to create the first self-help group for sexual harassment survivors.

After working as a journalist and a strategic and policy adviser within the minerals industry, Katherine is now managing director of Futureye, a network of consultants which provides strategic advice to corporations and governments across the sustainability agenda, from economics and trade to stakeholder engagement and diversity. In 2000, Katherine won the Telstra Victorian Business Woman Award for the Private Sector. She is a popular speaker on a range of organisational change, social and environmental issues.

Katherine has been a strong force in the community, bringing together many women's organisations to focus on an issue that had been largely swept under the carpet. Katherine was at the peak of her young career when at 28 she encountered sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace. At first, she didn't believe that her harasser could exert as much power over her career as he did when she rejected his overtures, but she soon felt the effects. "I was so angry, so upset and so shaken that my career could tumble down on his word, no matter how hard I had worked, no matter what I'd done. I just had to do something about it," she says.

Reviewed 25 May 2022

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