Employers are responsible for propagating a safe and healthy work environment for their workers. This includes ensuring that the workplace is free of any form of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace is not only a legal requirement and a moral thing to do; it is also the right thing for your business. Low worker morale and productivity often define a workplace with several discrimination and sexual harassment cases.
While most employers and business owners are aware of legal obligations to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace, they are not aware of the steps to be taken. Read this post to discover the steps for reducing sexual harassment at the workplace.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is defined as inappropriate or unwelcome sexual advances, sexual favors, and other physical or verbal behavior of sexual kind that implicitly or explicitly interferes with employees’ work performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment.
Any sexual behavior that makes workers uncomfortable has the potential of being considered sexual harassment. Sexual harassment at the workplace is available in many forms, such as;
- A senior telling an employee that they must sleep with them to keep their job.
- Making demeaning sexual comments to fellow workers.
- Telling explicit sexual jokes.
- Posting explicit sexual comments and jokes on the company’s internet wall.
- Employees send emails containing sexually sensitive content to colleagues.
Steps for preventing sexual harassment at the workplace.
Prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant consideration for companies and businesses. Here are common steps that can be employed to achieve a safe working environment free from any form of sexual discrimination.
- Provide employee training.
Proper training is a significant factor in controlling sexual harassment in the workplace. Different states have policies in place for companies with over 50 employees to provide training on sexual harassment at the workplace.
However, employers are highly advised to organize at least annual sexual harassment training programs for employees, whether it is a state requirement or not. These programs should focus on telling what sexual harassment is, outlines reporting procedures, and encourage people to openly talk to HR about their concerns.
The training program for employees should be held differently from the ones for managers. The management should train workers on patient education and how to respond to cases and reports from employees and measures to put in place to prevent them from happening.
- Streamline reporting process.
A single channel for reporting workplace sexual harassment might not be effective and workable for everyone in your team. To make employees feel safe and encourage openness among them, it is important to consider various options.
Victims of sexual harassment usually feel embarrassed and find it hard to speak to management in person. This is why there should be several reporting channels such as emails, phone calls, dropbox, or a questionnaire.
- Be transparent.
It is important to be highly transparent on matters of sexual health at the workplace for both ethical and legal reasons. If the problems are solved in closed-door meetings, victims may develop some sense of insecurity towards reporting matters since they do not understand the process and everything that comes with it.
Being transparent and publicly solving abusive behaviors is key in encouraging victims to come out and speak while also acting as a strong deterrent to perpetrators. Although it is important to respect victims’ privacy, it is equally significant to outline the resolution publicly.
- Make everyone feel safe.
Every employee needs to feel equally respected, protected, and valued in the team, regardless of age, gender, race, or professional position in the company.
It is not always enough to assume your policies apply to all in the company. Having different genders, races, and sexual identities in your provisions and making them feel valued and represented is key.
The bitter reality is that sexual harassment occurs all the time, yearly, and in many organizations globally. And the only way to entirely eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace is to integrate serious policies and compliance in every area of the organization.
Besides, company management should follow the steps discussed in the article to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace including, provide training, streamlining reporting, being transparent, and making everyone feel safe and valued.