Dealing with sexual harassment is a fact of life for any business that hires employees.
It is important to establish guidelines and know ahead of time how you will deal with any issues. If you have a Human Resources department, they will be responsible for the training and policies for this subject.
However, it is essential that all managers and heads of departments are involved.
When your HR department provides sexual harassment training as part of all new employees' orientation, it helps them know how to handle it if the situation should ever occur to them. It also helps them to know what not to do that could be construed as sexual harassment.
Training serves several purposes.
First, it helps all employees understand the definition of the term and how to identify and prevent it. Second, it allows employees to know that management is supportive if they should have a complaint about another coworker. Third, it makes a clear statement that harassment will not be tolerated.
Guidelines for companies in regards to a sexual harassment policy have changed over the years. Many companies still do not have a policy in place or training for their staff.
There are two different types of sexual harassment to deal with in creating a policy. The first is called quid pro quo and involves a superior requesting sexual favors in return for a promotion or other job benefits.
The second relates to a hostile work environment.
In this situation, one person may not be the focus of the harassment. Instead, it involves one or more employees creating an environment that makes someone uncomfortable. It could mean inappropriate conversation or pictures or lewd comments or jokes.
A company policy should include an express commitment to preventing and dealing with sexual harassment.
It should also provide detailed information on how any complaints will be handled. It should define penalties and provide any additional resources that a person may use for assistance. Plus, it should let staff know that any complaints will be handled in a confidential manner.
Concrete examples of what constitutes sexual harassment may help potential victims and harassers to recognize such behavior. While sexual harassment is often done intentionally, in some instances, it was not intentional. However, the employee and employer could still be held liable.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the number of sexual harassment cases has gradually decreased over the last decade.
In 1997, almost 16,000 charges were filed. That number dropped in 2007 to just over 12,500. Much of this is due to organizations taking an active role in preventing the occurrences and correctly handling the ones brought to their attention.
If you are a new business, you must make it a priority to establish a company policy to deal with sexual harassment before it occurs.
It is important to have your Human Resources department address the issue with all new employees, and it is equally as important that you are up-to-date about these same issues and the latest legislation and resources for this subject.
Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and online business degrees.
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