Tip 48: How Are You Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

01 Feb 2018 11:10 AM | Heather Kaye (Administrator)

News about sexual harassment and abuse seems to be everywhere these days and nonprofits are not immune to this problem. We've outlined the basics for those who need some handy resources below. But, what about the grey areas and how will the current awareness translate into change in our workplaces?

Did you know that 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men experience sexual harassment at work?            Rape and Crisis Center

A number of people have warned against a backlash to the #metoo and #timesup movement. Why Some Women Can’t Get Behind #MeToo — But Wouldn’t Dare Admit It starts off with a story about a woman working in a nonprofit. Still others, like Tom Krattenmacker (a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and director of communications at Yale Divinity School) write in a tough article Yes, it's hard to be a man in the #MeToo #TimesUp era. And it should be.

It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.     Will Rogers

Your HR department is working on behalf of your organization. So, employees may not feel free to use them as a resource for support or guidance. There are no advocates for an employee. Ask yourself: Is our policy clear to everyone? Are we creating safe spaces to talk about tough subjects? If someone has an issue are they clear about who to talk to and what to do?

The solution for ending sexual harassment in companies is “creating a culture of prevention, support, respect and equity.” This all comes down to education, accountability and policy—not workplaces becoming the sex police.
Linda A. Seabrook, Futures Without Violence general counsel

Seabrook has a number of other recommendations for organizations aiming to create a harassment-free company culture:

  • Climate Survey. Institute a climate survey that can assess the culture of a workplace and where the gaps are. In developing this, the employer should be engaging employees on what types of questions need to be asked, as employees are the ones who know where the abuse happens and who’s doing it.
  • Confidential Complaint Procedure. Provide a confidential complaint and reporting procedure that allows victims and bystanders to be heard and feel empowered to report without fear of retaliation in any form.
  • Ongoing Education. Create an ongoing education program that goes beyond the mandatory liability prevention training, outlining the expected climate and behavior of the workplace with real-life scenarios informed by employees. The program should employ adult learning methodology, and be interactive and engaging so that participants’ beliefs can be examined, tested, and then integrated with new ideas and approaches.
  • Prevention Strategy. The education program should be part of an overall strategy and program to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination, and promote respect, civility, and equity in the workplace. Again, employees have the unique knowledge and experience about how, where, and when abuse occurs, so they should be included in the creation of standards and practices intended to protect them.
  • Policy. Prevention is only successful when those who may harass or assault an employee or coworker know that if they do, they will be caught and there will be consequences. The consequences should be proportional, but informed by the victim. Every workplace should have a policy that addresses sexual harassment and all forms of gender-based violence with clear definitions and expectations of conduct. This policy should be reviewed, updated, and trained on regularly.
 © 2018 The Leadership Sanctuary
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