Every employee deserves a safe and conducive workplace. Unfortunately, one of the challenges many employees have to deal with at some point in their careers is sexual harassment. Every employer has the responsibility to create and maintain a workplace that is devoid of all forms of sexual harassment. Besides being a legal obligation, this also makes great business sense.
Sexual harassment in the workplace takes many forms. It can come from a supervisor, co-worker or even a client. It can range from inappropriate jokes and comments, unwanted touching or request for sexual favors in return for a promotion.
Here are some of the things an employer can do to minimize incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Have an anti-sexual harassment policy in place
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), every employer is required to take affirmative steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The first step in addressing the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace is to develop and communicate a strong policy on the subject. A good sexual harassment policy should, among others, clearly indicate the following:
- A definition of sexual harassment
- Zero tolerance policy for all forms of sexual harassment
- Employee responsibilities when it comes to reporting incidents
Have regular training on sexual harassment
Alongside having an anti-sexual harassment policy in place, employers need to be sure that everyone in the organization understands the spirit and letter of the policy.
Practically, this means that every team member needs to know the right steps to take should they become victims of sexual harassment. Employees should be regularly trained on how to detect these forms of sexual harassment and, most importantly, how to report them. Supervisors, too, should be trained on how to receive, investigate and process sexual harassment claims.
Sexual harassment can impact the affected employee and organization in many ways. These are just some of the steps employers can take to address and eliminate incidents of sexual harassment from their organizations.