Sexual Harassment is the most common harassment that people face in the workplace. Workplace Sexual Harassment is one of the most upcoming issues that has been brought to light by the #Metoo drive.
Workplace Sexual Harassment includes any kind of sexual advances made by colleagues, seniors, and any work acquaintances. Any unwanted jokes, gestures, contact, and repeated requests for dates; are a part of Sexual Harassment. When bad behavior goes unnoticed at the workplace it can create a hostile and intimidating work environment that impacts the productivity of employees at the workplace.
Workplace Sexual Harassment is not limited to Women but also includes Men, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and people from different backgrounds. Reports suggest that most reported cases are by women, but this does not suggest that bad behavior should be tolerated at the workplace. So, what can you do to combat sexual harassment at the workplace? We might have some answers that can be helpful in such situations.
1. Document clear policies about sexual harassment
The employee handbook should have clear and transparent policies as to what accounts as sexual harassment and what measures to take it such instances occur. If any employee experiences such incidents, then what steps should be followed to file a complaint. State a zero-tolerance policy for the person responsible. Investigate the complaint filed by the employee without bias or favoritism. Retaliation against any employee filing complaints shall not be tolerated. Policies should also be re-examined after certain periods to keep up to date with new applicable laws.
2. Spreading Rumors and Complaints seriously
Any employee experiencing sexual harassment at the workplace is always afraid of losing their jobs. It is the responsibility of the management to acknowledge any rumors seriously and contact the employee. If any employee files a complaint, then the complaint should be taken seriously by the management so that others who might have experienced the same thing can also come forward to talk about it.
3. Give reporting preferences to employees
Mostly the employees are afraid to speak about sexual harassment openly, in this case providing different reporting preferences is necessary. Creating a safe space for employees to talk about it is important. Giving the preference for filing a complaint through emails or other reliable mode is important so that the employees feel safe talking about it.
4. Enforce Law at Every Level
The punishments and zero tolerance should not be limited to middle management employees but also the employees at senior positions. Abuse of power by such employees should not be ignored and the punishments should be just as severe.
5. Empower employees and follow up
Even after the legal obligation is completed management should follow up by asking how the matter was handled and what they can do to make these matters better. Empower other employees as well to speak up in future cases.
6. Training employees across all levels of the organization
An organization should conduct training sessions for employees at least twice a year. Such sessions should teach employees about what sexual harassment is, how it is going to be addressed, complaint procedures and encouraging employees how to handle such complaints along with their supervisors and managers.
7. Lead the way
A culture change is only effective when there is a two-way approach not only a top bottom but vice versa. Leaders play an important role in such situations as they can end such harassment when they witness it. A great example would be when during a town hall meeting an inappropriate comment is passed by a colleague. As a leader of the organization, the CEO witnesses this behavior and addresses the individual to apologize instantly as well as issues a stern announcement by reminding others how this does not reflect the organizations value.
8. Take counsel from your friends and family
Discussing this abuse with people that are close to you such as family members, colleagues, and friends can give you much-needed support so that loneliness can be avoided and support the company to investigate the matter. If you witness a situation, ensure that you discuss the matter and help to encourage them to take the necessary actions to put an end to the situation before it deteriorates. Supporting against workplace sexual harassment is everybody’s obligation.
These were some of our chosen ways to combat Workplace Sexual Harassment. If you have any more suggestions, then share with us your viewpoint.
Written by: Girish Rohra Chawla
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