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Creating a safe and healthy work environment is one of the most important ways for your organization to continually thrive, especially amidst the pandemic. Due to the peculiarities of the work environment, it is now imperative to have a work environment that is free of harassment and can help organizations compete for and retain talent, improve diversity, equity and inclusion, foster a sense of belonging and psychological safety — and avoid costly claims. Sexual harassment has the potential to damage both the reputation of the offender and the organization in general.

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Sexual harassment most times will take the form of unwelcome sexual advances, request for inappropriate sexual favors, which results in an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

There are two main types of sexual harassment:

Quid pro quo: this occurs when someone in authority as an employer demands that the employee has to comply to sexual advances to receive something in return.

Hostile working environment: this is when the environment at work accommodates sexual explicit jokes or language and does not involve a direct sex.

Conduct that are considered to be sexual harassment include: repeated sexual flirtations, continued verbal abuse, offensive jokes or comments about an employee’s age, sex etc, making obscene and insulting sounds among others.

Here are different ways to prevent sexual harassment in your office.

  • Start from the top

Once it is expressly communicated from the leadership that there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment, it becomes easy for the other employees to follow as most employees look up to their boss.

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  • Ensure employees can recognize sexual harassment

You must not assume that everyone knows what traits and behavior constitutes harassment. Sometimes, employees do certain things and think it is harmless or should be considered a joke, but in the interpretation, it is quite offensive. The employers should include what constitutes sexual harassment in their policies, code of conduct, trainings and ongoing communication with their employees.

  • Offer multiple reporting options

The channels for reporting sexual harassment should be multiple to prevent any form of manipulation. Generally, the official channel is through the HR, but there can be anonymous hotlines, surveys and other resources to permit the opening up of employees without fear.

You can also become more deliberate about creating awareness by displaying posters on sexual harassment in visible parts like the reception of the office. The posters should include how anyone facing sexual harassment can receive help and also how the reports should be made.

Essentially, the onus falls on the employer to create the required awareness through organizing workshops and awareness programs at periodic intervals for the employees. The frequency of this duty is not specified, and it is left to the discretion of the organization. However, it should be considered during onboarding processes, retreats and other times when the employees get together. Once an organization is in synchrony regarding sexual harassment, a lot of effort can be made in curbing this menace.

Featured image source: UCLA Newsroom
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This article was first published on 25th February 2022


Grace Christos Is a content creator with a proven track record of success in content marketing, online reputation management, sales strategy, and so much more.

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