Sexual Harassment In The Workplace – 10 Tips For HR Departments

Stopping Sexual Harassment In The WorkplaceSexual Harassment In The Workplace Introduction

Human Resources Departments are often the most busy part of many companies and organizations. Many companies have only one or two HR Personnel to manage all staff needs. Often this means there is not enough time for policies to be written let alone implemented. Here are 10 tips to assist HR Departments to address sexual harassment in the workplace. These are tips only and should not be construed as advice or policies. They are detailed here to get HR Departments thinking about ways they may be able to improve their handling or workplace related sexual harassment complaints.

TIP 1: Create A Sexual Harassment Policy For Your Company or Organization

No matter how small or large your company or organization, you need a sexual harassment policy. If there is not enough time to create one, contact your local labor department, Department Of State or a dozen other such contacts. Simply doing a search on the internet using the term “where to get a sexual harassment policy” with the quotes included, will create a list of organizations and government organizations that offer free sexual harassment policies. State or Provincial (if in Canada) departments have specific guidelines available. As well legislation is in place to assist in dealing with specifics for sexual harassment in the workplace.

Use those resources as a reference to build your own sexual harassment policy.

TIP 2: Implement and Enforce Your Sexual Harassment Policy

The second tip is to make sure every employee from management down has a copy of the sexual harassment policy. Make sure all employees have read the policy and asked any questions in regards to the policy. Get questions in writing and keep those questions with the employee file. Have each employee no matter how large the company or organization, sign an agreement that they have read and understood your sexual harassment policy.

TIPS 3: Never Ignore A Sexual Harassment Complaint

Let nothing “fall through the cracks”. Make sure that every complaint no matter how small is documented. Have employees sign complaints.

Take Every Sexual Harassment Complaint Seriously

Take Every Sexual Harassment Complaint Seriously

TIP 4: Act Immediately On A Sexual Harassment Complaint

No matter how trivial the sexual harassment complaint may seem, act on it. Often acting immediately will stop the complaint from escalating. In most studied cases, the inaction on the part of HR Departments and Managers on sexual harassment complaints allows the sexual harassment to not only continue but to escalate. Acting quickly and immediately can save the company from many issues including possible legal action, time loss, poisoned work environment and more.

TIP 5: Have Sexual Harassment Complaints Handled by The HR Department

Having a strong central focal point where employees know their complaint will be acted upon can often reduce the chance of a sexual harassment complaint be disregarded by a manager or supervisor. Make it clear to all employees from management to staff that the HR department takes sexual harassment seriously and will assist every employee who has a complaint.

TIP 6: Have An Open Door Policy With Sexual Harassment Complaints

Establish an “open door” policy where employees know they can take their concerns at any time. No matter what happens, a sexual harassment complaint should take precedence in the busy workday of all HR Personnel.

TIP 7: Create A Safe and Confidential Environment For Reporting Sexual Harassment Complaints

Make sure that every sexual harassment complaint is not trivialized. Take any complaint no matter how small, seriously and document all facts and dates. Make sure employees understand that the HR Department keeps all sexual harassment complaints secure, private and confidential.

TIP 8: Take Male Sexual Harassment Complaints Seriously

Many male employees will not report sexual harassment due to their gender. Recent surveys show that many men who have encountered sexual harassment quit their jobs and/or seek legal advice outside the office or workplace. Many male victims believe that their workplace related sexual harassment complaint will not be taken seriously and often leave employment  and seek financial compensation that can be both taxing to former employers financially and emotionally. Take male sexual harassment complaints in the workplace seriously from the very start.

TIP 9: Act On Sexual Harassment Complaints

Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of handling sexual harassment complaints is knowing how to act. Lay out a guideline approved by upper management that will include the steps to be taken to address a sexual harassment complaint in the workplace. It should include steps to handle everything from a minor issue to a repeated offensive. Include steps that may lead to termination of an offender. Document all steps taken and have both the offender and the victim review documentation and obtain signatures. This not only will prove the company made every effort to rectify the situation, but that the company or organization takes every complaint seriously and will not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace.

TIP 10: Document Everything

The final tip has been mentioned previously but needs to be repeated. Document everything including dates and where possible time and locale. Leave nothing undocumented and obtain signatures where needed to support the documentation gathered.


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