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Sexual Harassment: The Elephant in the Modern Day Office Environment

Sexual Harassment: The Elephant in the Modern Day Office Environment
24/10/2018

Sexual harassment has been somewhat of a taboo topic of discussion at the workplace with numerous management executives opting to deny or cover up the frequency at which it occurs. Equally, innumerable victims who are frequently petrified of the consequences opt to bottle up the issues happening to them. Consequently, the victims end up harboring feelings of resentment and fear of their immediate work environment and colleagues.

Sexual harassment in itself is a product of other forms of harassment that metamorphose over time into sexual harassment. Harassing subtly starts off with name-calling, ridicule, offensive jokes and pictures, threats, and much more. Over time, the victim becomes conditioned to the offender’s way of saying or doing things and this conditions the victim to perceive the harassment as normal or acceptable. Subsequently, this form of harassment becomes ingrained in workplace culture. The workplace thus becomes the perfect breeding ground for harassment and allows sexual harassment to thrive.

Sexual harassment is deemed to be unsolicited sexual advances that offend the victims and create an inhospitable working environment. It is worth noting that workplace sexual harassment is not limited to innuendos about sex between two people of the similar gender. Also, the perpetrator of the sexual act could be your boss, a non-employee (supplier of goods), or a co-worker in the same job level.

In recent studies, sexual harassment is now viewed more like a workplace culture problem than it was 20 years ago with the spectrum of what is regarded as harassment being broadly defined by both human resource professionals and culture advocates as a result of increased adaptive HR risk management practices. However, it is imperative to note that sexual harassment is preventable, and this article discusses ways to prevent, correct, and stop sexual harassment and thus build zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace.

Train Employees and Create a Robust Sexual Harassment Policy

Although sexual harassment in most countries is not regarded as a crime, some forms of sexual harassment are considered criminal. Human resource departments should endeavor to carry out yearly training for all their staff on what entails sexual harassment and how to be professional in the workplace. Accordingly, strict, enforceable, sexual harassment policies and guidelines should be drafted and shared with all staff for familiarization, internalization, adoption, and implementation. Fama understands the factors to be considered.

Encourage Transparency for Office Romance

HR personnel in their training should spell out that the company has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. Therefore, coworkers who want to pursue a romantic relationship outside of work should fill out consensual agreement forms to show that no party has been pressured to enter into the relationship unwillingly.

Management Participation The attendance and participation of senior management in anti-harassment workshops goes a long way in showing support on zero tolerance of workplace sexual harassment, as well as, equipping senior management with the right skills to resolve any incidences that may occur.

Respond to all Sexual Harassment Complains Promptly

An ingrained culture of seriously reviewing all sexual harassment reports and acting on them punctually prevents and reduces sexual harassment incidences at the workplace. All incidences should be investigated adequately to ensure that the truth prevails and to avoid wrongful victimization.

Improve the Workplace Culture

Normalizing harassment as a workplace norm is the most significant contributor to the continued growth of sexual harassment incidences at the workplace. Through management participation, reaffirming of the zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and regular training, it is possible to stop sexual harassment. Also, education of employees and turning sexual policies into action by properly investigating and punishing the perpetrators is a gateway to a safer work environment and more productive employees.

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