Employees should feel secure in their ability to learn, work, and grow. Sexual harassment in the workplace may make your workers feel unsafe and uncomfortable at work. The consequences might last a lifetime, tarnishing otherwise wonderful memories and experiences. Sexual harassment in the workplace is an often-overlooked threat to employee well-being; as an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that your employees are secure from such risks.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace may take various forms, making it difficult to respond to and deal with. It must, however, be addressed. In this article, we have discussed some strategies you can implement to help your company avoid and successfully handle sexual harassment. But before we jump the guns, let’s understand what exactly is sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome sexual approaches and gender discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in charge of preventing and dealing with workplace sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is classified as either quid pro quo or hostile work environment.
- When there is a power imbalance, quid pro quo arises when sexual favors are exchanged for a reward or a threat.
- When unwelcome sexual approaches or discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation create a frightening work environment, it is called a hostile work environment. Unlike in quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuits, in hostile work environment instances, the harasser might be anybody, including clients, coworkers, or suppliers.
Effective Strategies You Must Implement at Your Workplace
#1 Having a Sexual Harassment Policy is Crucial
It’s quite probable that your employer already has a sexual harassment policy in place (in certain jurisdictions, it’s even required by law). Most states that require businesses to have their own anti-harassment policies also have a common requirement that the policy is created by the state’s own human rights agency, such as Connecticut, New York, and Illinois.
A sexual harassment prevention policy lays out all an employee needs to know about your company’s anti-harassment policies. It’s a crucial document that your employees may consult if they need to determine whether they’ve been harassed, understand how to make a report, or seek assistance following a harassment occurrence.
#2 Be Assertive With Your Employees About the Sexual Harassment Policy
If the #MeToo movement and the numerous sexual harassment instances that have come to light in recent years have taught us anything, it’s the need to be even more aggressive in educating and informing employees about the sorts of conduct that will not be accepted in the workplace. Organizational harassment rules should be reviewed on a regular basis. They should also communicate about these rules and the ideas they reflect on a regular basis, not just during onboarding or yearly training cycles, but throughout the year in all-staff and smaller team meetings, internal corporate communications, and other venues.
#3 Build Trust and Be Vigilant About Any Complaints
Now that your staff understands what constitutes sexual harassment, how severe it is, and how to report it, it’s time to reinforce by action. Regular sexual harassment training informs your staff, the sexual harassment policy provides a road map for them to follow and treating sexual harassment complaints seriously supports your zero-tolerance stance. Anyone who comes forward to allege sexual harassment is taking a major step. They must overcome valid fears that they have witnessed in real life in order to eventually report the situation. Is anyone going to trust them? What if the perpetrator or the corporation retaliated instead?
Most people feel that submitting a report would harm them or their jobs in the long term and that it is far more comfortable to remain silent and “endure.” Sexual harassment, on the other hand, isn’t only awful for the victim. It’s also terrible for business because the scenario might quickly devolve into a hostile workplace.
#4 Have Someone Monitor Your Workplace
Encourage your senior to take a stroll around the office and be vigilant. A supervisor who interacts with employees often (rather than hiding in a personal office) is more likely to notice cases of workplace sexual harassment. Of course, not all forms of sexual harassment are easily detectable (for example, digital communications), but having your supervisors in the workplace will increase visibility — in both directions — and allow your supervisors to gain a better understanding of the culture of the employees, which will help them deal with a future occurrence of sexual harassment. The presence of an authoritative person, whether continuous or unexpected, may deter sexual harassment from developing in the first place.
You may also add questions to your yearly employee engagement survey to find out if your employees have ever been harassed or witnessed it occurring to someone else. If they have, inquire as to whether or not they have reported it, and if not, why not. This enables you to assess the efficiency of your company’s reporting system.
#5 ZERO Tolerance Policy
Needless to explain but your company should have a clear zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. If an employee is found guilty of sexually harassing a colleague or staff member, there should be quick penalties, regardless of their position within the company. A statement should be submitted with the police if it is judged necessary. In addition, your company’s policy should emphasize the value of secrecy so that you may express your issue without fear of retaliation, such as a pay cut or termination.
Awareness is the most effective way of prevention. Those who are aware of harassing behaviors are less likely to engage in them and more likely to recognize any sort of harassment. Preventive measures are a continuous endeavor for all companies, regardless of size. It’s critical work that ensures all employees feel comfortable and secure. The aforementioned strategies are some measures for your sexual harassment prevention program that are required to establish a safe workplace for your employees.