Sexual harassment is still one of the most significant problems in the workplace - scandals still arise in the academe, media, and just recently in Hollywood and Congress.
To skillfully address this kind of misconduct, here are 5 harassment complaints tips that employers can learn from and take actions to avoid such improper culture to thrive:
A written anti-harassment policy is required in many jurisdictions such as in Chicago, Illinois, and it is indeed important in any institution. However, if it is not well-enforced by employers, it means little to nothing.
If you receive notice or even observe that such misconduct is happening in your company, you are responsible to conduct an immediate, unprejudiced, and meticulous investigation.
Also, the kind of investigation, whether internal or conducted by an outside and authorized party, depends on the circumstances.
Now, if the result of the investigation proves that harassment did occur, it is your duty as an employer to provide appropriate and immediate corrective action to rectify the misconduct and prevent it from happening again.
We strongly recommend that you regularly practice your anti-harassment policy and the disciplinary actions that come with it, regardless if an entry-level or high-ranking employees are involved.
It is important that your employees see you as someone who does not treat anyone leniently and that you do not allow breeding a culture of disrespect. In this way, your employees will not be afraid to come forward and raise complaints.
To cultivate a culture of respect and trust in your company, it is best to make sure that your employees are well-trained on sexual and other types of harassments. Thus, always seek to improve the training from entry-level employees to your top executives.
Training may be required by the law or not, but you can always use it to show and remind employees that harassment is against your company values and ultimately the law.
Magnify the importance of a harassment-free and fair environment in the workplace to your business. It is also best to utilize a wide-ranging “harassment” definition.
Further explain that serious and unwelcoming conducts especially of sexual nature are prohibited because these can affect a person’s employment, negatively impact their performance at work, and devise an unhealthy and stressful workplace.
Moreover, it is also important to stress to your employees that expressing or implying that submitting to unwelcoming behaviors determines any decisions for employment such as benefits and promotions are not tolerated.
Therefore, it is best that you provide illustrations of misconduct and consider the rising scandals in Congress, Hollywood, and social media as relevant examples.
As an employer, it is critical to understand that some victims of sexual harassment are afraid to submit a report. This is due to fear of negatively impacting their careers or fear of causing further damage if they choose to speak up.
Also, in various cases, the fear to report is caused by a significant difference in power between the victim and the assailant. One concrete and relevant example is an entry-level employee versus a top company executive. In this case, reporting harassment and even responding to it can be difficult.
This is the reason why encouraging all your employees to report any kind of improper conduct without being afraid of retaliation is crucial to the peace and success of your business.
Also, it is best that you provide several ways of reporting violations and ensure employees that complaints are taken seriously and immediate investigation will take place. You should also never tell your employees that “it is just the way it is” and they should just “grow a thicker skin” - you should not let such culture thrive in your company.
After the investigation, examine the results and discuss any possible and applicable disciplinary actions with your employees - assure that they are adequately heard and understood even if they do not agree with the outcome.
Furthermore, always continue to monitor any indication that may bring forth difficulty such as a certain overseer or manager, or division, such as transfer requests and/or elevated turnover and observe that the misconduct is no longer happening and the victim or complainant has not been retaliated.
It is important to remember that women are not the only victims of harassment although majority of sexual harassment victims is comprise of women.
Among the victims of these misconducts are growing numbers of non-binary individuals and men who are also coming forward. Therefore, as an employer, you are responsible to seriously accommodate complaints and consistently manage them regardless if the victim or harasser is a woman, man, or a non-binary individual.
One thing that you can notice as a common thread in the recent scandals that arose in Hollywood, Congress, and social media, is that individuals have come forward after the alleged harassment - they did not speak up during the time of misconduct.
Also, getting eyewitnesses to speak up can be difficult. This is why it is crucial to encourage employees to report if they suspect harassment or have witnessed such misconduct.
Research on bystander intervention training is currently conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to help employees on spotting derogatory behavior and unwelcoming conducts and how to intervene and initiate corrective actions when the need arises.
As an employer, you are expected to be diligent in preventing harassment and responding to complaints not only on sexual harassment but also on any kind of misconduct that can negatively affect an employee’s rights and damage the core values of your business.
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