I’M shocked and saddened by the report on your front page today about sexual harassment in Scotland’s workplaces ("One in three women has fallen victim to sexual harassment", The Herald, February 13). It is indeed appalling that so many women have to face that, some of them on a regular or even daily basis. Equally troubling was your lead story on Monday on the same subject, which revealed that many employers don’t deal with the issue appropriately and that the law, as it stands, is often of little help ("Tough laws called for to stop rise in workplace sex cases", The Herald, February 11).

You’d think that, as a white Scottish male and fairly senior airline captain, I wouldn’t be able to empathise with the women who are affected by this behaviour. Sexual harassment is not something I’ve raised with my employer; but I have, over many years, complained about the prevalence of racist language in my workplace.

It’s what I call a canteen culture. A small minority of colleagues express profoundly racist views in my workplace. The vast majority of my colleagues disapprove, but say nothing. They are silent because they recognise it’s part of the culture, often dismissed as banter; because those using the offensive language are often older, senior and more powerful; and because they know that, if they do complain, they’ll get no support from their managers and are likely to be victimised.

For personal and moral reasons, I chose to complain and have paid a price for doing so. The most extreme case involved a colleague who, on company premises, told me he hates the Scots; who tried to head-butt me; and who looked me in the eye and said: “You want to watch, I’ll come up to Scotland and get you.” I reported that to the Metropolitan Police, who investigated but said there wasn’t enough evidence to secure a conviction, which is probably correct. My employer must know that the standards of proof in criminal and civil cases are very different, but has declined to act.

Every worker has the right to go to work confident that they won’t have to experience sexual harassment or racist behaviour. They should also have the confidence that, if they do have that experience, their employer will investigate promptly and fairly and, if they don’t, will face legal enforcement. As things stand now, harassed workers are regularly let down both by their employers and by the law.

The solution, I believe, is for the vast majority of fellow workers who don’t indulge in unacceptable behaviour to speak up. If you see sexual harassment or hear racist language, say something. As Edmund Burke almost put it, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.”

Doug Maughan,

52 Menteith View, Dunblane.