The international 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence draws attention to the fact that discrimination and gender-based violence against women and children constitutes the violation of human rights.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was on Friday, November 25, will serve as the campaign’s launch date. It will last until December 10 — International Human Rights Day —after that.
A study by the University of South Africa found that there were over 51 830 sexual offences committed each year, and that sexual harassment in the workplace is on the rise.
You can uncover dozens of headlines on recent sexual harassment allegations by performing a Google search for “sexual harassment” and selecting the “news” link.
The incidents span different regions and business sectors, and they demonstrate how little has been done to stop workplace sexual harassment.
The unfortunate truth is that sexual harassment has a significant impact, despite the fact that no organisation wants to think that it might be a problem for them.
There appears to be media reports every day, focusing on one firm or notable person at a time, which can have disastrous effects on their brands from a customer and staff perspective.
The requirement to establish and uphold a harassment-free workplace applies to all businesses.
Unfortunately, despite a corporate focus on offering training and putting rules against harassment into place at the same time, sexual harassment at work has been a problem for decades.
The unfortunate reality is that most of the past harassment prevention efforts made by businesses have failed. Even worse, there are instances where the sexual harassment prevention training given is more detrimental than beneficial.
Employers can effectively reduce the likelihood of harassment and create a secure, harassment-free workplace for everyone by adopting a different strategy for addressing sexual harassment prevention. Here are six ways to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
Make it known that preventing sexual harassment is a company priority
In recent years, the #MeToo movement and other examples of sexual harassment have come to light. As a result, there is a rising understanding of the necessity of being proactive at work.
Businesses must take action to educate and enlighten employees about the kind of behaviour that is unacceptable in the workplace.
Companies should examine their harassment policies. They should often speak about these policies and the values they uphold — not just during annual training cycles or onboarding phases, but also throughout the year in meetings with the workforce and smaller teams, in internal business communications, and elsewhere.
However, not all forms of communication are created equal. According to research, communications about sexual harassment prevention at work shouldn’t be mild; instead, they should make clear that the issue is a top priority for the organisation and that anyone who violates the company’s anti-harassment policies will be held accountable, regardless of their position.
For these messages to be genuinely effective, it is imperative that they come from leaders across the organisation, preferably top executives, and not just HR.
Managers and staff will follow suit if firm leadership consistently conveys that sexual harassment prevention training is a high priority and will be handled seriously.
Make certain that management and employees are aware of what sexual harassment is
Although it can seem obvious what sexual harassment at work is, managers must take steps to make sure that employees are aware of the precise types of actions and behaviours that are unacceptable.
This goes beyond particularly offensive instances of unwanted physical contact. Making improper sexual comments, exhibiting or viewing inappropriate content, and other disagreeable and undesirable behaviours and activities are included in the definition of sexual harassment.
Employees are more likely to understand how to prevent sexual harassment accusations in the future, if they are aware that these behaviours are inappropriate.
Educating leaders, supervisors, and workers about subtler types of sexual harassment is also crucial. If ignored, these less serious actions or remarks can degrade team dynamics and workplace relationships, as well as progress into more blatant harassment.
Maintain a positive attitude during sexual harassment prevention training employees
Don’t react well to hints or explicit remarks that they’re doing improperly, that they can’t be trusted, or that they’re being suspected of misbehaving.
A lot of sexual harassment training focuses on the negative—what not to do — which may give employees the impression that they are complicit in the problem and would harass others if left to their own devices.
Instead, preventative research demonstrates that adopting a positive attitude is a better strategy to spread the word and involve staff in supporting the development of the ideal environment.
Positive messaging that assumes employees want to do the right thing (because the vast majority of employees do! ), engages them to be a part of the solution to workplace harassment, and inspires them to help promote a respectful culture, can be much more successful in influencing employee behaviour than a “stick” approach that focuses on inappropriate behaviour and consequences to be avoided.
Reduce your use of legalese
A heavy focus on the laws and regulations linked to sexual harassment can be an immediate deterrent for employees, just as negative messaging fails to connect with workers.
Yes, these concerns must be addressed for compliance purposes. However, they don’t have to be the only basis for your communication and training initiatives aimed at preventing sexual harassment.
The majority of employees aren’t experts in employment law, thus utilising legal jargon as the benchmark for proper workplace behaviour and case law fact patterns to direct daily actions can reduce behaviour standards to the lowest common denominator. It can imply that as long as something isn’t forbidden, it’s okay to say or do it.
While focusing on discovering legal infractions is important, it is less likely to engage staff members and managers than focusing on professional, polite behaviour.
In light of this, it is essential to provide legal compliance content as required by law, but it is also important to balance it with additional instructions and illustrations that reflect a higher quality, such as your company’s values, policies, and culture.
Encourage staff members to help maintain a harassment-free workplace
Supervisors, managers, and HR leaders cannot continuously monitor harassment. Companies can, however, increase the likelihood that episodes or warning indications of harassment will be noticed, reported, and dealt with — and even prevented — by engaging the assistance of their employees. Sexual harassment at the office cannot be stopped by HR. Every employee is.
All staff members can be taught how to be responsible bystanders, supporting a culture that is respectful and constructive by:
- Preventing harassment or identifying its symptoms.
- Providing after-the-fact assistance to people who have been harmed.
- Reporting harassment formally.
Employees may make a difference by becoming engaged bystanders. In order to harness the power of the many and develop a culture of safety and respect, it is crucial to let employees know that they play this role and to provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to do so.
Not every employee will feel confident interfering directly to calm a situation. However, there are alternative actions they could take, such as halting or diverting the offending party or reporting the situation to management or human resources.
As problems arise, take prompt and decisive action
Workers will cease reporting sexual harassment occurrences if they believe that nothing will be done when a problem arises, which may encourage those employees who might cause harm to continue acting inappropriately.
It is crucial that employers act quickly to address complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace, conduct an exhaustive and unbiased assessment or inquiry, impose appropriate sanctions, and notify the reporter that they have done so.
Organisations can communicate broadly about these actions and their unwavering commitment to holding people accountable for sexual harassment, even while they frequently are unable to reveal particular and personal information about the disciplinary actions that have been taken.
You may prevent workplace sexual harassment by using these preventative measures while fostering a respectful and encouraging workplace culture.
Make sure your training on preventing sexual harassment doesn’t fall flat or, worse, has the opposite effect of what you planned.
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