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Sexual harassment in the workplace must be stopped: 5 strategies to end it


There is no place in our society for sexual harassment, but even less so in the office. Sexual harassment happens on a daily basis and both women and men can experience this disturbing ordeal, so you need to take steps to end sexual harassment in the workplace. As an employer, you have a duty to prevent any kind of discrimination from occurring in your workplace.

5 strategies to end sexual harassment in the workplace

This can be achieved with five simple steps and strategies.

Understand What It Is

Before you can begin to address sexual harassment in the workplace, you’ll have to understand what it is. Sexual harassment constitutes any unwanted sexual behaviour that makes you feel intimidated or violated.

Sexual harassment doesn’t just entail unwanted advances or requests for sexual favours. It covers a range of different discomforts such as indecent exposure, comments with sexual meaning, telling sexual jokes or asking a colleague about their sexual life.

In general, these can be divided into three different forms of harassment:

  1. Physical: This category includes unwanted touches of any kind, e.g. B. Stroking, hugging or kissing. It makes no difference whether the respective sexual act was supposedly accidental. This also includes physical approaches, the exercise of violence or sexual assault in general.
  2. Verbal: Another form is oral sexual harassment in the workplace. Examples of this are suggestive jokes, intrusive remarks or ambiguous comments about a person’s appearance, clothing or private life. If employees are encouraged to commit sexual acts or to make appointments of an intimate nature, this also belongs to this category.
  3. Non-verbal: Sending emails, photos, SMS or even videos with sexual content, suggestive staring or whistles meets the requirements for this category. Sexual harassment in the workplace also occurs when pornographic material is distributed or the harassing person exposes himself in front of other colleagues.

Raise Awareness of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Since the ‘Me Too’ movement started in 2006, people have become more aware about the prominence of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, there is still a lot to learn and in order to address the issue, you must raise as much awareness as possible. Get your employees to undergo a short questionnaire that can help you better assess what their perception of sexual harassment is. Offences like groping or unwanted flirting are easier to spot, however, other forms of sexual harassment are much more covert. Make sure to raise awareness and clearly state what kind of behaviour is inappropriate.

Enforce a Sexual Harassment Policy

Once you understand what sexual harassment is and you’ve raised awareness, you will want to enforce a work policy. This should entail specific whistleblowing and reporting procedures.

Make sure you let your employees know that your company operates with a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. If you’re not sure how detailed your sexual harassment policy should be, you can always find an employment attorney and ask them any questions you may have.

Train and Educate Your Employees

Sexual harrassment training will promulgate your policies and a better understanding of the issues around harassment. Conduct training sessions and workshops for all your employees on a yearly or as-need basis as a crucial step to end sexual harassment in the workplace. This can be done either internally or externally. You can even ask your employees to complete an online course that can help teach them the basics of anti-harassment practices. Don’t just limit yourself to educating staff about sexual harassment, make sure they are also aware of other forms of discrimination too.

Create a Reporting Procedure

Hopefully you raise awareness about the subject and train your employees thoroughly enough that you never have to deal with a sexual harassment case in the first place. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Let your staff know that they can report any allegations and have a formal reporting procedure put into place.

Sexual harassment is not an easy topic to deal with. However, it is a matter that must be confronted headfirst. Protect the safety and wellbeing of your employees by fostering an open and positive work environment. Make sure to do your research and educate yourself on the topic as best as you can.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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