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Fostering a Harassment-Free Workplace

Jul 03 2018 | In: Posted on Categories Tips for Employers
Smiling employees

With the far-reaching impact of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, women have made it very clear that bad behavior is unacceptable. And their historic bravery is paying off — literally. 48% of companies have taken steps to review their pay policies to ensure fairness across the board, and giants like Whole Foods have put salary transparency policies in place that make compensation an open topic.

Plenty of companies are on the right side of the fight for equality, and it’s imperative that yours remains one of them. Victims of harassment suffer with heightened anxiety, poor work performance and even physical illness. And if left unchecked, your company could wind up facing intense public scrutiny and costly legal battles.

Here are a few measures you can take to ensure that all employees feel safe and protected at work.

Train everyone.

Once a year, everyone at your company should undergo sexual harassment training that clearly defines inappropriate behavior, and empowers employees to report issues as they arise. And managers should undergo separate training that teaches them how to handle harassment complaints. Depending on the size of your company and your industry, your state may already require you to provide some form of sexual harassment training. But even if it isn’t legally mandated, it’s still a good idea to provide training. That way, if a lawsuit arises from a complaint, you’ll at least be able to prove that your company takes harassment seriously and worked to prevent it.

Keep the conversation going.

The discussion around harassment shouldn’t end with company-wide training. It’s important that you stay in the mix to ensure that the work environment remains healthy for all. Talk to your employees. Get their take on how things are going. Connect with managers and make sure they’re up to the task of maintaining a good environment. Bad deeds are able to fester in secrecy, so encourage an open-door policy across the board.

Encourage the guys to get involved.

Sexual harassment is largely perceived to be a women’s workplace issue. But men exist at an interesting intersection in the conversation. If they become victims of harassment and report it, their own claims are usually not taken as seriously as their female counterparts. But if men in the workplace speak out on behalf of inappropriate behavior they witness towards a woman colleague, their voices often add a layer of credibility to her charges. Bottom line: whether victims themselves or lending their voice to substantiate a co-worker’s claim, men in the workplace have a seat at the table in this conversation. Encourage them to take it.

Keep everything “PG” rated.

Some industries — advertising, for instance — breed work environments that are more relaxed than others. The casual nature of these spaces, combined with the youthful employees staffing them, creates the perfect storm for inappropriate jokes and commentary. Remind your employees that having fun is perfectly acceptable — being crass or rude is not.

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