Recent examples from the United States of multi-million-dollar payouts in cases of sexual harassment at work have prompted many UK companies with US subsidiaries to re-examine their policies. Some appear to have erred on the side of caution. One large UK advertising agency, for example, now requires its US staff to sign a legally binding, 20-page contract that forbids all manner of seemingly innocuous behaviour - the use of first names, `ambiguous' smiling, even handshakes. In response, self-styled `communications counsellor' Anthony Marsh has formed `Consulting Adults', an attempt to use techniques drawn from the theatre to defuse potential cases of harassment at work. Instead of lawyers' fees and grim legal sanctions, he argues, companies use a `balanced and common-sense programme' to handle similar situations.
Marsh also maintains a career as an actor, appearing on television as what he describes as `flamboyant or disgraceful' characters. `People', he muses, `who act in exactly the way I'm trying to prevent.'