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I ran across an article recently in HR Brew titled “The majority of workers can’t correctly identify sexual harassment”. If you haven’t seen this article, I’d suggest checking it out. It cites a study from Cornell that showed seven scenarios to workers in industries with high rates of complaints. Only 6% were able to correctly identify the seven situations as sexual harassment.
If there’s good news to be gleaned from this article, it’s that study respondents who felt their HR departments have taken a stance against harassment did better on the study. This means that HR departments should:
Have support from the management team, and I mean the entire management team. There should be zero tolerance for harassment and zero tolerance for retaliation.
Put a policy in place. Employees should learn about the policy during orientation, and they should be reminded of it regularly.
Conduct training. You don’t have to create training. There are training programs already in place that can be delivered in-person and online.
And honestly, these are just the basics. Organizations should have a comprehensive compliance strategy that includes more than just an anti-harassment policy. They should have a communications plan in place, so employees know what to do when they have questions and concerns. And they should give employees training so there is no question about what appropriate behaviors are and what to do if they see something that should be reported.
If your organization hasn’t done an HR audit lately, this might be a great time to do a review and make sure your compliance strategy is current. There are consultants that specialize in audits and can help with the process. Your employment attorney might know someone.
Being in compliance is important. The last thing that anyone wants is to find out that an employee is being sexually harassed and the reason they didn’t report it is because they didn’t know what harassment looks like. And your legal counsel can chat with you about the potential liability.
Organizations should already know this, but this study is a good reminder. Please make sure you have an anti-harassment policy and training in place.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL
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