How to handle sexual harassment in the workplace?
In our lifetime, we’ll spend around 35% of our life at work. That’s almost half of our life so to think that we could spend the majority of that life being sexually harassed is extremely terrifying and enough to over-stress one.
It comes in mental as well as physical forms which will have significant effects for an employee and employer if it’s not dealt with effectively. It can also be damaging to a business’ culture in terms of absences at work and productivity decreases.
With this being the case, it’s important that businesses deal with sexual harassment cases carefully and appropriately so that employees feel protected and safe. Here’s how you can do so.
Introduce a strict policy.
It is a real shame that most of the business do not have such policies at first stage and when a policy has some loopholes people tend to exploit it. There should be one way to communicate to employers and employees in the business that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated is through a policy which they’re able to follow strictly. Set some zero tolerance rules to keep everything under control.
The policy should clearly define what is classed as sexual harassment in the workplace, consequences if it occurs and provides support channels for employees that witness it or wish to report a case of it. This way we can minimize the cases of sexual harassment.
Implement an environment that’s respectful.
The best way to tackle the issue is to get it at the source, therefore creating an environment that prevents the possibility of sexual harassment to start is a good way to implement a respectful environment.
If everybody respects one another in the workplace, there will be less chance to provoke sexual harassment. It must be remembered that sexual harassment tends to form power rather than the act of sex. So, if employees are refrained from using their position of power it will reduce the chances of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.
To create this environment you can do the following:
- Advise that obscene language cannot be used in the office
- Ask employees to avoid using endearing terms such as sweetheart and honey
- Make inappropriate jokes unacceptable in the office, including those relating to sex
- Avoid explicit material being shared around the office
Provide sexual harassment training.
Another way for you to ensure that your employees are aware of sexual harassment and the policies surrounding it is through training. You can provide classes on sexual harassment and behaviors that should be looked out for before reporting sexual harassment.
The materials can be visual or theoretical based and they’ll help to give your staff valuable information about what they should be aware of. Employees should also be included in the training so they can identify situations and the best way they can handle it.
Make note of the harassment claims.
This can apply to both the employee and the employer. When there has been a claim made about sexual harassment, as much detail should be documented about the incident and what occurred. This will help in the investigation process and protective cases that go to legal matters if dispute resolution solicitors become involved. The information provided will help in progressing the case.