Employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with a safe and supportive work environment. They also have a legal obligation to ensure that the workplace is free from sexual harassment and discrimination of any kind.
Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is not only legally mandated and morally right, but it’s also best for your business. Workplaces, where sexual harassment and discrimination are prevalent, are often workplaces where employee’s morale, input and productivity are low.
The 2017 sexual harassment allegations that gave rise to the Me Too Movement shook the business world and the entertainment sector, exposing a sexual harassment culture that exists in many industries today. Over the past few years, great strides have been made to increase awareness of workplace sexual harassment, thanks to the efforts of this campaign.
Companies all around the world are becoming more and more aware of the significance of developing frameworks and finding practical solutions to this problem. To assist prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, employers are reevaluating their sexual harassment policies and putting new rules into place.
But before knowing what preventative measures must be implemented, business owners and leaders must first recognize the kinds of actions that might be regarded as typical instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.
How Sexual Harassment in workplace is Defined
What does workspace sexual harassment at work entail? As of right now, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines it as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” that “explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”
Employees should understand what types of behaviors have no place in the workplace through sexual harassment sensitivity training and employee conduct rules. However, it is crucial to establish a setting where your staff members will feel secure raising issues with their treatment and speaking up if they believe they have been subjected to any form of harassment.
How to prevent sexual harassment in a workplace.
The good news is that recent initiatives and controls against sexual harassment have proven successful. 75% of human resource professionals think they have seen a change in employee attitudes and behavior about sexual harassment, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 survey.
One of the cornerstones of prevention is ensuring that companies continually foster a secure work environment where employees won’t fear getting fired when speaking up about their challenges, particularly if the harassment is coming from their superiors. The prevention of sexual harassment depends heavily on this ongoing assurance. It is important to let potential abusers know that sexual harassment is unacceptable and will result in consequences.
Let’s now examine some of the essential components of creating a sexual harassment prevention plan for your business.
1. Provide Your Employees With Training
Proper training is a key factor in combating sexual harassment in the workplace. Certain states, such as Connecticut, Maine, and California (for companies with 50 or more employees), require employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees and management. . However, most employers are strongly encouraged to provide sexual harassment training at least once a year, although this is not considered a government requirement.
These sessions should focus on explaining what sexual harassment is, explaining reporting procedures, and encouraging everyone to speak openly with Human Resources about their concerns.
Manager training should be held separately from employee meetings. The session should educate management by defining common examples of sexual harassment and how to respond to complaints, and how to proactively prevent such behavior in the workplace.
2. Make Reporting Incidents Easier
For all of your employees, a single method of reporting sexual harassment might not be effective. You should think about providing a range of options in an effort to make them feel protected and motivate them to speak up.
Victims may frequently feel ashamed and unwilling to speak with the HR personnel face-to-face. For this reason, you ought to offer choices for reporting via phone, email, or survey.
3. Ensure Everyone Feels Protected
All employees should feel valued and protected equally regardless of gender, race, position within the company hierarchy, or sexual orientation.
In many cases, simply stating that a policy applies to everyone is not enough. It’s important to include different races, gender identities, and genders in your policies and make them feel seen and represented.
4. Be Transparent
For legal and ethical reasons, it is essential to be as transparent as possible. If issues are resolved behind closed doors and do not surface, victims may feel uncomfortable speaking up because they have never seen the process in action and do not know what to expect from it.
Public exposure of abusive behavior is therefore essential to encourage victims to come forward and can act as a powerful deterrent to perpetrators. While it’s important to respect the privacy of harassed employees, it’s equally important to make solutions to their problems public.
The Cost of Sexual Harassment
The true cost of sexual harassment at work is significantly more than its monetary cost, to start. Your company will unavoidably suffer if these kinds of situations keep happening in your workplace and aren’t handled effectively. When sexual harassment isn’t handled effectively, employees lose trust in their employers and become disheartened.
Demoralized workers who don’t feel welcome, protected, and safe at work will be less efficient and more likely to abandon your business. However, aside from these typical impacts that unfavorable work environments have on the people who work there, sexual harassment claims at work could possibly come with a significant financial cost.
Data from the EEOC show that the price of resolving sexual harassment lawsuits increased from $56.6 million in 2018 to $62.2 million in 2019. Remember that in 2017, the cost of recoveries came to $46.4 million, demonstrating an apparent increasing trend that is anticipated to continue.
To get a better understanding of how to protect your company from sexual harassment claims and other employment issues, you can SW HR at any time to secure the right coverage at the best price.