There are times when I feel that reading the daily newspaper is the most painful thing to do in a day, and sometimes wonder why I would do that of my own volition! The depressing coverage of acts of violence, terrorism, sexual harassment are the stuff nightmares are made of and make for very disturbing reading. But no one really knows what they can do to completely eradicate such scourges of civil society.
Workplaces can be friendly and comfortable or scary and threatening – depending on what your experience of them is! Every workplace needs to work hard to ensure a safe work environment and to make them friendly and comfortable for the employees.
It’s not enough for employers to lay down values and standards of performance and to expect their workers to not behave in unethical ways. No one knowingly wishes to allow a person with a record of sexual harassment to quietly come on board and start harassing innocent women colleagues who accept them at face value. But what can employers do to ensure that sexual harassment is not a workplace issue anymore?
Ensuring protection from harassment in the workplace may not be easy but it’s also not completely impossible to achieve. Committed employers can put safeguards in place to ensure a safe workplace by setting zero-tolerance policies and establishing processes which ensure the safety of the women at the workplace to banish sexual harassment in the workplace.
The protection is assured by Title VII and applies equally to contingent workers as well as permanent workers. Below are some tips:
Many times sexual harassment in the workplace goes unreported as the person being harassed is blackmailed into accepting it through threats of retaliation. These could be a demotion, being posted to an unpopular and hard assignment and even pay cuts as well as going all the way to being fired! Sometimes the woman is ashamed of seeking help as in some oblique way she may feel responsible for what’s happening to her.
Whatever the reason, don’t let it be swept under the rug. Let your workplace policy encourage the women to seek help without delay as they can save themselves and possibly save others too because the illegality of the act is unquestionable!
Make the effort to draft a well-documented policy that takes different scenarios into consideration with clear instructions to the various stakeholders on the action plan for each of them, in the event of a serious violation of your policies against workplace sexual harassment. Remember to extend such protection from harassment to customers also.
By not providing safe and stress-free working conditions to women at the workplace, employers could lose access to their skills and talent while the country’s economy will be hurt as more women choose to be unremunerated but safe.
Does your company have a sexual harassment policy that it stands by?
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