Despite decades of attention in the media and courts, sexual harassment remains a significant and costly today’s business environment. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010, more than 7,000 sexual harassment cases have been filed with the agency, annually. The statistics in almost every country are sobering as sexual harassment is against the law into anyone, anywhere.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. In addition to being illegal and violating the law, this harassment negatively impacts the workplace by undermining the integrity of the employment relationship, harming employee morale, and interfering with productivity. But, given the proper awareness and avenues, sexual harassment can be prevented in the workplace. Below are some guidelines which can be inculcated in organisations in Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH).
- Establishing a zero-tolerance policy
The Human Resource department has to clearly state that no form of harassment will be accepted including not only sexual but also harassment due to gender orientation, race, religion, ethnic background, age or disability. These policies are required to be published in the organisation’s handbook and posted prominently in the company’s intranet or internal website.
- Increase employees awareness
This is made possible by offering training by recognising and understanding types of sexual harassment. Staff need to be made aware of the different types of actions and behaviours which constitute sexual harassment. All that sexual harassment conduct must clearly understand it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment and the misconduct becomes sufficiently severe or pervasive.
- Establish a simple and effective complaint process
Whatever form of harassment, the employer must intervene to stop it. This can be done by establishing a formal and uncomplicated complaint system or process, known by all staff. Firstly, is that the victim must be able to address the harasser directly and inform the person that the behaviour must stop. If the misconduct does not stop, the victim should engage any complaint system in the organisation to report the alleged sexual harassment. This process must be simple by providing accessible staff points of contact. The policy should also assure employees that they will not suffer retaliation as a result of any complaint made in good faith.