Originally posted on Business2Community.com on November 15, 2017
The workplace environment your company promotes speaks volumes in regards to your company’s values. We all want to run successful businesses, but are we making workplaces where employees feel valued and safe? With the attention sexual harassment has been generating, there must be a plan to stop this type of behavior from continuing. Often businesses do not have an effective method to address and prevent such problems. By using anti-harassment training, we can go beyond simply addressing sexual harassment in the workplace to developing a method that identifies and resolves sexual harassment.
Invest Time to Train on Sexual Misconduct
Workers understand they have rights, but are they thoroughly informed on the procedures that guarantee their rights are being protected? When designing your compliance training, this is not a topic that can be itemized as a simple provision in the contract for your new employees.
Seek to understand both state and federal laws regarding these cases and inform your workers of their rights. This means you need to clearly define sexual harassment, the laws that prohibit it, and the responsibilities of those involved.
When you take the time to cover the materials of a detailed sexual harassment course, it guarantees your workforce is all at the same level of understanding. This could mean you read the policies aloud and have a discussion about what is considered harassment. Upon completion, keep a record of who has taken the training and keep that documentation on file.
Employee protection is something that isn’t taught just once, either. As with all the trainings your company provides, this is one that has to be trained on annually. This will ensure that your staff is always aware of your company’s stance on the matter and it also allows you be up-to-date and compliant with both state and federal laws.
By taking the time to address the company’s position on zero-tolerance policies, you will confirm to your employees that their best interest is in your best interest. This is something that should be expressed early on and frequently.
Define a Company Support Liaison
We have found that one reason why sexual misconduct is unreported is that a support liaison within the organization has not been clearly defined. Instances where harassment has occurred can mean that the harassed have no idea to whom they can turn. When these situations occur, either the victim has to worry about their safety, or they leave the company to find a culture that feels safer.
Effective corporate training includes properly identifying who in your organization is a victim advocate. This includes providing a name of a representative, as well as a working phone number and an e-mail address where they can be reached.
By defining your liaison within your organization, you are showing your staff that you are invested, and you have thoroughly trained a supervisor in these matters. Your company liaison will need to be knowledgeable of the proper procedures for evidence gathering and how to handle the cases effectively.
Ensure That Privacy is Protected
Part of respecting your employees is respecting their right to privacy. Your sexual harassment coordinator needs to know how to document all required information as well as provide strict confidentiality in these matters. Failure to maintain confidentiality is another violation of your worker’s rights, so these matters have to be treated as private. Do not make these matters public.
If you have to build a case regarding sexual harassment, the names of those involved must be kept confidential from the rest of your staff and only those who need to know should be given access to privileged information. If a case has to be reported to the authorities, the matter should be contained to as few people as possible while the case is being resolved.
If actions have to be taken, the cases still have to remain confidential as to not violate the victim’s rights. The victim will always have a right to privacy, and it is your responsibility to ensure those rights are being protected.
Worker safety has to be a priority within a business’s culture. If workers feel like they’re at risk, it will negatively impact your business from the inside. Do not foster an environment where perpetrators are allowed to flourish. If worker safety is not viewed as a legitimate concern, not only will that be recognized, it will be a reason for the business to fail. Take the time to actively address these matters and resolve them before they are able to take root.
If a case is reported and no actions are taken to resolve the harassment, not only does it reflect poorly on what you consider acceptable behavior in the workplace, it also makes you and your business culpable to the offenses being committed. It is prudent that every case be treated seriously, and to follow through with your company’s stance towards sexual harassment offenses.
Punitive actions towards sexual harassment offenders serves to benefit not just a company, but the morale of your work staff as a whole. Safety should be a top concern, as a lack of action toward those who violate company harassment will drive good employees away. Instead, guarantee them you are invested in their safety and provide the best environment possible.
Sexual misconduct is not to be tolerated, and actions need to be taken to affirm those values by focusing on how our businesses treat our employees. This is a matter that businesses must commit to resolving. The cost of not enforcing this training isn’t just a financial consideration; this is a moral imperative that we must follow through.