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Organizational Steps to Eradicate Sexual Harassment

Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue, but there are important steps companies can take to eradicate it. In this lesson, we will discuss what sexual harassment entails as well as how to properly deal with it if it occurs.

What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behavior that could affect your performance at work, or make you feel uncomfortable and create a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can occur between men or women. Sexual harassment can be sexual jokes, grabbing, sexual gestures, or any other inappropriate verbal or physical action. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue and needs to be handled promptly. Unwanted sexual advances at work is not only inappropriate, but could affect multiple people in the office.

A hostile work environment not only relates to the victim, but it also could relate to other employees within the company. For instance, if a manager makes inappropriate sexual advances to one employee, this could be making other employees who witness it feel uncomfortable as well. Anyone who witnesses any unwanted sexual conduct should contact HR, or management, to make sure the issue is resolved promptly. In this lesson, we will look at steps organizations can take to eradicate the threat of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Knowledge Is Power

It is essential as a business owner to educate all employees about sexual harassment. The first step is to present employees with a clear definition of what constitutes sexual harassment in the company. Employees should understand such concepts as quid pro quo as well as what makes a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo is when a manager, or person in charge, gives an employee preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors. On the flip side, the person in charge may also threaten an employee's job if s/he does not perform these same favors.

In every company, training should be provided to teach employees how to deal with an employee, or supervisor, that crosses the line. Companies need to have a strict policy put in place so all employees are aware of how to handle misconduct. All information should be handed out to employees, supervisors, and even some non-employees. Vendors that work directly with employees, and even some customers, should be aware of the company's policies when it comes to sexual harassment. There should also be procedures in place so employees know the steps in the process when filing a complaint. If, for example, they are getting sexually harassed by a supervisor, it would be better for them to go to HR. It is important to make sure there are multiple people that can handle the situation so employees have different routes to safely handle the issue.

Sexual harassment complaints should be kept private and not discussed throughout the company. Imagine you are the victim and your manager decides to tell the whole office about the details of what occurred. Wouldn't you feel embarrassed because it is such a sensitive subject? That is why it is vital for the information to stay between the victim and the accused individual.

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