Sexual harassment is a disagreeable or an unacceptable act which causes a victim to feel like exasperated, embarrassed, and terrified. It arrives in many forms such as verbal, physical, or written. It is considered to be associated with the workplace when it occurs with someone at work, or while attending work-related events. An employer or HR manager should be able to rapidly resolve any concerns related to sexual harassment irrespective of whoever is the culprit or victim. Sometimes the victim of the harassment may not be able to communicate their issues to their supervisor but it does not mean that they are accepting of such behavior. HR possesses a key responsibility to build and sustain a workplace environment that is completely clear of sexual harassment. Apart from being a legal commitment of the employer, it also makes good business sense.
It is crucial for HR to have some prevention strategies for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, some of which have been discussed below:-
Follow a clear anti-harassment policy
The employer should clearly mention these points in their employee handbook:
- Proper definition of sexual harassment
- State in clear words that any kind of sexual harassment will not be tolerated or accepted within the workplace
- State that HR will definitely discipline or fire any employee who harass other employees
- Display a clear agenda for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment
- State that HR will properly inspect any complaint that are reported
- State that an employer will not admit or accept any reprisal against anyone who objects about any sexual harassment
Conducting awareness training of all employees, supervisors and managers
HR should execute annual training sessions for employees which would train employees on awareness about what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it. It should teach them that they have a legal right to have a work environment devoid of any form of sexual harassment and an employer should make sure that all the employees understand the procedure for filing complaints, be aware of their options in that situation and are motivated to report to their respective managers and supervisors of the incident occuring.
Monitoring the workplace
HR should be proactive in observing the workplace. They should get out among the employees themselves periodically to get insight on their work environment. If they see any offensive posters or notes, an immediate action should by HR to address the negative environment. Respective supervisors and managers should make sure all communication lines to them are open.
Take all the complaints seriously
Immediately investigate any and all complaints related to sexual harassment. If its a genuine complaint, HR’s actions against the perpetrator should be swift and effective.