Sexual harassment is one of the most taboo subjects in the workplace and also one of the most destructive. The biggest problem with controlling and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is the fact that many employees simply do not take it seriously. This is unacceptable, and can lead to lawsuits, firings, and even worse outcomes in serious situations.
Controlling and eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace is the supervisor’s responsibility. As a supervisor, you are directly responsible for the protection of your employees from this horrible problem. Here is how you do that:
Learn every single bit of policy within your company on sexual harassment. Further, learn every bit of information on the state and federal level as well. Knowledge is power, and you must know what is and is not sexual harassment. You should also know the penalties, and procedures to take when it happens.
Do not allow the subject to be taboo. Speak openly and honestly with your employees about the issue. Every quarter or so, have a brief meeting on what constitutes sexual harassment, and what they should do if they experience it. This includes who to contact, and how to handle it.
Remember that sexual harassment is a very difficult thing for most people to discuss. When you have these meetings, it is possible that sexual harassment is happening already. This possibility can create a great deal of problems within the office harmony. For this reason, it is a good idea to be sure that they have an open door to communication with you. Make it clear that they are welcome to come into your office any time to talk things over. This communication line is the most important part of dealing with sexual harassment effectively.
Make it abundantly clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any conditions or situation. Having a firm, unflinching stance on this issue is absolutely vital to preventing sexual harassment. When someone tests you on the policy, make sure that you follow through with the zero tolerance attitude. Once is enough for anyone that sexually harasses an employee.
Make sure your employees realize that even language can be termed sexually harassing. Do not let them think that simply not touching will keep them safe. Words and even body language can be deemed offensive and hostile. Make this perfectly clear.
Follow through with these policies to ensure that new hires understand as well when they are hired. You must ensure that every employee is knowledgeable as they are brought in.
Finally, make sure they have a contact other than yourself. Some people are not comfortable speaking about such things with a direct supervisor. Line up a person for them to talk to that is not directly working with them. This will encourage them to come forward when necessary.
Sexual harassment is only rampant when you ignore it or otherwise allow an atmosphere that is conducive to sexual harassment. Staying on top of the situation and knowing what is going on with your employees can prevent this problem. Follow these tips to prevent sexual harassment, and you will be one step closer to office harmony.