Sexual harassment is a problem in the workplace. It undermines morale, and it’s illegal. You’ve probably heard that saying: “A whisper becomes a shout when it’s addressed.” So, let’s talk about how to address sexual harassment at the workplace and how to create a culture of mutual respect and gender sensitivity.
It is impossible to read minds or look inside people’s hearts and know for sure what a person is thinking or feeling. So, it’s imperative that all employees be crystal clear on the policies, rules and expectations at the workplace related to sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct interferes with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
The best way to prevent behavior from escalating into sexual harassment is to have clear policies against such behavior, explain these policies to all employees, train supervisors on how to handle complaints of this nature, and hold employees accountable for their behavior.
If you do have an incident of sexual harassment at your workplace, handle it as quickly as possible. Explain your policy against such behavior and follow it through with disciplinary action if necessary (up to and including termination).
It’s important to create a workplace culture where mutual respect is valued and gender sensitivity is at the forefront of our minds. Conducting Employee awareness program, Ensure POSH Compliances, holding additional seminars on the topic of gender sensitivity and sexual harassment, providing a safe space for employees to come forward with any concerns they have about sexual harassment, and encouraging gender-balanced hiring practices, steps like these would instill a positive culture in the minds and hearts of your team members at your organization.
At times, even though the act of sexual harassment is discussed about a lot in social media and in the news, there is still a lack of awareness as to how to deal with these incidences when they occur at workplaces. All this has led to an increase in sexual harassment cases at various work places. Employers play a significant role in maintaining a safe and supportive workplace environment. The solution lies in sensitizing all employees and not just the HR at such organizations about the harmful effects that come along with such incidences. As long as employer institutes a mechanism for redressal for the grievances faced by employees, the issue of sexual harassment can be ended at workplaces. An open working environment where one can report any such incidences is what’s needed to end workplace sexual harassment.