Sexual harassment is a serious problem affecting today’s workplace. A 2016 study by the EEOC found that approximately one in four women reported having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some point. Besides the mental and physical toll it takes, it costs companies millions with the EEOC recovering $164.5 million in 2015 alone for workers alleging sexual harassment. Here are some ways to stop this problem before it becomes a major issue.
Create a Sexual Harassment Policy
Having a formal policy in place is a great starting point and lets your employees know what types of behaviors are and are not acceptable. It also explains the consequences that will happen if an employee is ever found guilty of sexual harassment. This way there’s no confusion on the matter, and everyone is on the same page. Check out this resource from Workable for an example template.
Often there’s a fine line between innocent or playful behavior and legitimate sexual harassment. Providing training will educate your staff on the fundamentals and offer guidance on how they should conduct themselves in the workplace. You can either use a video or online training program, led by experts, or you can develop your own program if that seems more fitting.
Promptly Respond to Complaints
If an employee comes to a manager with a sexual harassment complaint, it’s something to take very seriously and immediately respond to. The longer you wait to address it, the bigger the potential complications become. Instruct your managers to follow the appropriate procedures anytime someone comes to them with a complaint.
If You See Something, Say Something
According to the Trades Union Congress, the majority of women (80 percent) that experience sexual harassment did not report it to their employer—usually out of fear of career repercussions. Those who are impacted don’t’ speak up all the time. Often incidents will go unreported. Instruct all your employees to report anything that would constitute sexual harassment anytime they see it.
Sexual harassment may impact your business at some point. Preparing and knowing how to correctly respond, should help prevent it from escalating.
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