Sexual Harassment Is Out There, We May Not See It, But It’s There…
It is out there. We all know that it’s out there. Yet, many of us still ignore it, pretend that we don’t hear it or worse yet, we laugh and join in on it.We may do it out of embarrassment. Sometimes out of fear. Or sometimes out of a need to blend in and not centre ourselves out from the crowd. As the holiday decorations start to go up around the office and everyone is full of seasonal cheer, some businesses may find themselves dealing with sexual harassment claims.
Sexual harassment, it’s unwelcomed and unwanted. It can be verbal and it can be physical.
Verbal includes comments and jokes of a sexual nature or sexual innuendos. Physical includes sexual touching and gestures, stalking or sexual assault. It can even be through pictures such as graffiti , cartoons or displaying material that is sexual in nature.
It is out there. We all know that it’s out there. Yet, many of us still ignore it, pretend that we don’t hear it or worse yet, we laugh and join in on it. Click to tweet
How Do You Know If It Is Unwanted Or Unwelcomed?
We can use the ‘reasonable person’ standard. Would a reasonable person find this offensive or inappropriate? Ask yourself, “Would I behave this way if my significant other were present or if my mother was watching me?” or “Would it be okay if this was happening to my mother or my significant other?” Better yet, “Would I behave this way if the 6 o’clock news camera crews were filming me?
This type of stress takes its toll on the person targeted. It impacts them emotionally and physically through the symptoms that they experience such as fatigue, lowered concentration, increased frustration, and increased anxiousness. Economically through poor performance and through job transfer. It impacts the witnesses through anxiety, embarrassment and through lowered team morale. Also impacts the organization through productivity, morale, turnover, absenteeism and legal fees. The image of the harasser and the company are tarnished and this can be very difficult to rebuild.
We know that this is not just a female issue either. Nearly 1/6 of complaints are by men because of the behaviour of other men.
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Celebrating Sexual Harassment Awareness Week:
- Ensure that your company has a policy and read that policy. A good policy defines what is meant by sexual harassment and it outlines the steps in launching a complaint and investigating that complaint. It outlines what the consequences are if the complaint is found to be valid.
- Get training on your policy. Legally a policy is considered inactive until all employees have received training on the policy and the complaint process.
- During this holiday season, ensure that the company holiday party doesn’t become the breeding ground for sexual harassment. Professionalism is still the key. Remind all employees that holiday fun should never cross the harassment line especially when alcohol is being serve.
Sexual Harassment Is Very Serious
It can have disastrous consequences. Know your policy and speak up when co-workers are crossing the line. Most of the time these co-workers didn’t mean to offend and just needed a quick reminder. Others are harassing as a way of belittling and gaining control and power. This is where the company’s policy kicks in.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!