Workplace Sexual Harassment

If not addressed early enough, #MeToo or corruption scandals can adversely impact an organisation’s reputation, share value and loss of business. 

Where over 50% of working women have experienced sexual harassment at work, it is likely that sexual harassment does exist in your organisation. The statistics are higher for women from a minority ethnic background and LGBT people. Men are sexually harassed too, although the numbers are lower.

Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which violates a person’s dignity, makes them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, or creates a hostile or offensive environment. 

A number of sexual harassment problems arise simply because the nature of sexual harassment isn’t understood, even among HR practitioners. Intention, though important, is not necessary, for sexual harassment to have occurred. It is about the impact on the victim or the workplace environment.

By the time a person approaches HR reporting sexual harassment, she or he, has probably suffered for a while and may have experienced anxiety or changed their work patterns to avoid their harasser. This can cause them to fall sick, disengaged and some even leave the organisation if they feel unsupported. Organisations can lose talented employees this way, sadly, many of them women.

While people in HR may have the best of intentions, they may not be equipped to respond supportively to sexual harassment victims. Their focus is on the “process”, overlooking the fact that the employee before them could be traumatised. Some of the #MeToo cases in the media arose because their employers mishandled their cases. This is preventable once you have the right ingredients in place.

What we do:

  • Assess your current workplace culture in relation to sexual harassment, and other forms of harmful conduct such as bullying and discrimination.
  • Review your policies, processes and structure on addressing sexual harassment.
  • Provide talks and training which focus on mindset and behavioural change.
  • Train your HR and personnel in responding to sexual harassment reports, with a human centred approach.
  • Provide support to your employees impacted by sexual harassment.
  • Investigate and advise on sexual harassment incidents.

In the Speak Up Academy, we discuss Workplace Sexual Harassment and provide resources and interactive online courses. If you’d like any of our courses as part of your organisation’s internal training, let us know.

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Our articles and videos about workplace harassment.

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