Sexual harassment in the workplace is more common than you think. According to a poll conducted by Edison Research, 21 percent of Americans claim to have experienced workplace sexual harassment, including 27 percent of women and 14 percent of men. Managers are ethically obliged to prevent workplace harassment whenever possible. Here are some steps that you can take to make everyone more comfortable in your workplace.
As with most toxic workplace behaviors, the best medicine for sexual harassment is preventative. That’s why sexual harassment training is important. You need to be very clear about what behaviors constitute sexual harassment. In particular, you should devote time to less obvious behaviors that may be overlooked by employees. The training should be clear, transparent, and thorough. It should also be mandatory so that everybody has the same information. If everybody is trained to identify and prevent sexual harassment, there is no excuse for it when it happens.
Listen to Complaints
Office managers should be aware of the signs of sexual harassment in their workplaces. Not all employees will feel comfortable coming forward and talking about it. Unfortunately, this is a culture where coming forward about things like sexual harassment can lead to backlash. When employees come to you with complaints, listen to them, and take them seriously. Respect confidentiality, do not get defensive, and do not retaliate. In order to prevent workplace sexual harassment, it is important to create an open environment where employees can complain about their problems without fearing negative repercussions
Hire a Third Party
Ninety percent of people believe that sexual harassment isn’t a problem in their workplaces. This is a statistic that is, frankly, too good to be true. Most people don’t want to believe that their coworkers are capable of sexual harassment, but the truth is, anyone can be a sexual harasser. That includes nice people, friendly people, and people who you’ve worked with for a long time. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot objectively assess a sexual harassment complaint, the best course of action is to bring in a third party. Private detectives and security firms can help you come to an objective conclusion when you can’t be trusted to do it yourself. If you don’t trust yourself to make an impartial decision, hiring professionals is the smart, ethical thing to do.
Sexual harassment is a problem in many workplaces. Even if you think it’s not a problem for you, it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent it. Be open, be objective, and be explicit with your workplace sexual harassment policy. If you follow those guidelines, you should be well-equipped to deal with most problems that arise.
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