The #MeToo movement has finally put a spotlight on an issue that has been prevalent in almost all workplaces for a long time: sexual harassment. Harvey Weinstein’s infamous conduct and the subsequent wave that followed brought countless cases into public view, resulting in dozens of lawsuits, terminations, and resignations that affected both small companies and large conglomerates like Google. The movement even extended to politicians in a number of countries, including the United States. Three years on, while the #MeToo movement has made talking about harassment more acceptable, those who suffered from it are still reeling from the repercussions. And as a business owner, this is something you need to be cognizant of. According to a report released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, out of the 90,000 charges that were brought regarding discrimination in the year 2015, 28,000 were connected to alleged sexual harassment cases, in both state and local government sectors. Fast forward 4 years and the number of cases have only risen, despite having dipped between 2015–2017. With time, it seems that people are unfortunately reverting to their old ways. Many people believe that employers haven’t done enough to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.
When it comes to managing harassment claims, whose fault is it?
The responsibility to adequately resolve any harassment claims falls upon the HR department. In recent years, we’ve even seen the human resource industry come under fire for their misconduct in handling claims, and rightly so. Many cases in which victims reported harassment often resulted in them getting fired, with the perpetrator not suffering any repercussions apart from a slap on the wrist. And in many instances, not even that! It’s a clear failing of HR departments and the industry that they haven’t been able to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. However, by taking the right steps, it is possible to create a positive change and make workplaces a safer space for men and women.
Managing a Positive, Harassment-Free Workplace
Here are some policies we recommend for all companies:
– Hire a Reliable HR Consulting Firm
Having professionals by your side who are trained to keep their eyes and ears open, who can conduct their work effectively, and manage an investigation while taking all factors into account are the keys to having a positive workspace. You need an HR firm that knows how to discipline people and to be emphatic in their decision.
– Create Strict Policies
A professional environment is no place for bullying, discrimination, or harassment of any sort. A strict policy that calls for harsh disciplinary action should be implemented in clear, concise words with concrete examples so employees fully understand it. Also, when creating the policy, be clear in stating that reporting any harassment cases to HR will not be a basis for termination. There have been countless instances where victims were threatened with a job termination when reporting harassment by a higher-up. This needs to be nipped in the bud.
– Be Thorough During the Investigation
Sexual harassment claims—or any claim for that matter—must be taken seriously. Victims often suffer retaliation, which is why the case must be handled discreetly. The person under investigation should not be presumed guilty. However, personal or public opinion should not influence the decision. In addition, without any regard for the person’s rank or designation, the person being investigated should be terminated if instances of misconduct are proven.
Training a Future Workforce
Work with your outsourced human resource management team like HR Business Partners to create an employee handbook that details action against workplace harassment. Host live training sessions so employees can learn what actions and behavior are not permitted. As a business owner, lead by example and show your employees that you are taking all necessary steps to create an actively secure and effective workspace!2019-06-12 12:03:14