Prevention Of Sexual Harassment At Workplace: Everything You Must Know
Prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace is mandatory because it is a legal, ethical, corporate, and humanitarian issue. Employees face several issues while working, one of them being sexual harassment. It involves unaccepting signs of sexual demands. Either subordinates or superiors usually meet this through verbal or physical gestures.
It makes the victim feel bad about themselves, puts them under power by dominance or blackmailing, and lowers the self-esteem of the opposite one. It is harmful not only to the person being harassed but also to the growth of a firm. Although companies raised several ethical policies and security checks, some cases were worse than others. Sexual harassment training is important and mandatory in several states to create safer and more productive workplaces for employees.
Why is it Essential to Prevent Sexual Harassment?
The data collected in 2017 showed that the numbers of cases raised against the employees were more than 6,500. It was also noticed that many victims were not aware of the boundaries being crossed, whereas others could not take action. Apart from legal and ethical reasons, organizations have to adhere to preventing sexual harassment incidents because it greatly affects the workplace as well as the physical and mental health of the employees. Below are some major reasons.
- Increase in productivity
Regardless of the size of an organization, the companies must ensure safety and security. Apart from physical health, the company must provide the mental health of its employees as well. Moreover, protection will lead to productivity and, in turn, will help a firm achieve prosperity.
- Work ethics
It helps to maintain the morals of the firm, resulting in building confidence and commitment towards the company. Self-esteem plays a very crucial role when it comes to working. As communication is one of the workplace areas, people with low-self esteem won't be able to interact appropriately, and in turn, it will affect the results of an organization.
Everyone follows a set of rules that must be followed. And hence, a sense of control to keep a check on activities is required to maintain the company's structure. Training in the workplace aids in teaching discipline and proper behavior towards each other.
- Maintenance of culture
A safer environment will improve the working conditions and, therefore, will maintain a friendly culture. Just like the productivity of a nation lies in the happiness of the citizens, the success of an organization is in the satisfaction of employees.
- Efficient use of resources
If the employees are happy, then there would be less chances of any legal issues, which will benefit the company in minimizing their risk factors instead of using those finances to grow. It means that if the company utilizes its resources in safety devices like CCTV or any other tools which can ensure the security of everyone, then it won't become a part of any court cases as far as sexual harassment is concerned and instead grow to have a stand in the market.
What is the Role of HR?
Human resources as a sector manage the working of an organization and the people employed there. It is not restricted to hiring employees; in fact, HR plays other crucial roles too. According to a study, 75% of workplace sexual harassment occurrences go unreported. This figure demonstrates that businesses must do a better job of fostering a culture that encourages employees to report sexual harassment. Below are some of the parts which are essential as an HR to prevent sexual harassment in organizations:
- Several training programs can be organized by HR to spread awareness regarding how to self-defense in such cases. Apart from this, it encourages employees to act when anyone becomes a victim of sexual harassment, in turn changing the mindsets of people to avoid conflict and instead to step in and help one another. This is also called the bystander effect.
- HR is one of the people responsible for setting up company norms. Therefore, an HR person needs to keep in mind all the factors regarding the safety and security of workers; and the ones who violate, actions should be taken against them. However, forming rules is one thing, and making it follow is another. Therefore, after formation, strict measures should also be followed to create a fear in employees' minds to make them think twice before taking any illegal steps.
- Rather than discriminating against someone based on gender, color, socio-economic status, or any other factors, HR should look at the concerns of everyone with an equal eye. As every employee, whether it be a manager or intern, each one of them contributes equally at their levels. Their problems should also be dealt with humility because they may start with one employee but spread to others, drastically affecting the performance.
- Rapport formation plays a significant role when it comes to HR. Daily conversation, weekly meetings, and checking up on everyone will let HR build good connections and build trust to know the things regarding sexual harassment. An employee should feel comfortable enough while sharing these concerns with HR to ensure the safety of both the employee and the company.
- Problems are uncertain; therefore, HR should be ready with creative ideas to take a step above the punishment and maintain the norms and morals of a company. In addition, various tests like anxiety can be done to review everyone's mental health; counseling can be given through organizational psychologists to invest that one hour in the check-up to gain more remarkable results in the future.
Is There Any Way by Which Sexual Harassment Can Be Tackled?
There are many ways to tackle sexual harassment in an organization, the various methods of prevention include strategies listed below.
- Organizations should make a sexual harassment policy by mentioning the criteria and actions against violations. Before joining, every employee should be asked to sign it to ensure loyalty. This proves to raise a case against the assailant and maintain equality within the organization.
- Through awareness programs and training, workers should be taught the real meaning of sexual harassment. This includes physical touch without giving permission, hurtful comments, behaviors that show the desire to have sexual pleasure. It also provides approach methods through HR, seniors, security officers; and defensive techniques like shouting for help, pushing the person away, or trying to escape.
- Senior employees and HR should make monitoring to keep a safe work culture. Through actions and words, they should support every employee by preventing threats. 95 percent of assaulters go unpunished, as per women polled by ABC and the Washington Post. If there are constantly people who are keeping an eye on everyone's efforts, it can help reduce the number of sexual harassment cases.
- Monthly meetings and individual treatment will lead to quick actions and better mental health. Apart from work and brainstorming meetings, if a space is created for everyone to share their experiences, problems, and learnings while working, it might open up some issues that had not been raised earlier.
The Bottom Line
Although companies follow all the procedures, the issue has not been resolved fully. It is not restricted to the roles of companies but also employees. If the management and the policies are correctly balanced, it can give growth to both the workers and the company.
Apart from productivity, ensuring safety is equally necessary. Because if the employees will not feel safe and mentally fit, then the chances of them staying will be lesser and, in turn, will lower the benefits of a company. So, the reputation and success of an organization depend on the protection of employees.