Guest Blogger – Jamie Costello
We spend an average of around 35 working hours in the workplace and to think that we could spend them hours terrified of being sexually harassed is worrying. It can be physically and mentally detrimental to one that experiences sexual harassment and financially it can be significant for employers. Furthermore, culture in a company that fails to address the issue of sexual harassment can also lead to absence and a decrease in productivity.
Because of this, businesses should ensure that steps are taken to handle sexual harassment in the workplace. Here are tips on how to handle sexual harassment in the workplace and make certain that measures are being implemented to protect them.
Develop A Policy
A positive way to make sure that sexual harassment is prevented in the workplace is incorporating a policy on the matter that employees adhere to. It should be clearly structured to define what is classed as sexual harassment the workplace, the consequences of performing it and support for employees that wish to report it. Essentially, it needs to inform the employees what’s not allowed in the workplace and provide platforms to allow their voice to be heard.
Create A Respectful Environment
Tackling the source of the problem is always the best method to deal with any situation. This is why you should look to create an environment where everybody respects one another. Above all, sexual harassment is more concerned with power rather than sex, which means preventing employees using their position or influence in the company will likely lessen the chances of sexual harassment occurring. There are several ways you can tackle this:
- Ask employees not to use obscene language in the office
- Stop endearment terms being used (such as sweetheart and honey)
- Prohibit employees from sharing material that provokes racism, sexual explicitness and discrimination
- Tell employees to avoid using inappropriate jokes in the office, particularly topics regarding sex
Train Your Staff
As well as communication and written policies about sexual harassment, training up staff on prevention and awareness of sexual harassment can also reduce the chances of it happening. Training can be provided for employees to help them learn about behaviours that construe harassment. Videos used in training can provide a visual representation of unacceptable behaviour that employees should be wary of.
Training can also be applied to managers. Managers should be able to identify situations when sexual harassment arises and how to deal with it. Not everyone would be comfortable to come forward about it so it’s the responsibility of management to identify when there’s a problem.
Document Harassment Claims
Whenever an accusation has been made regarding harassment, you should be vigilant and take it seriously. Simultaneously, don’t jump to conclusions either. Document each piece of information that you receive whilst you’re investigating the accusations, with detailed notes. By documenting the information, it can help with legal cases and any proceedings that could potentially lead to court. You can then send relevant documentation to dispute resolution solicitors who can take the case forward.
Most important of all, when a situation arises when sexual harassment has occurred, you need to act quickly to prevent the claim from dragging on. The correct form of action needs to be taken depending on the seriousness of the offence. For example, an inappropriate remark may not require as much reprimand compared to ongoing harassment. With a policy in place, the correct measures should be taken according to it and within a timely manner.