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Sexual harassment in the workplace

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Part 2

No matter how many times the issue of sexual harassment is discussed it just doesn’t seem to matter to some individuals. So why discuss it so often? When this kind of attitude prevails, it is imperative that the employer takes a stand. Offenders must be alerted to the severity of their behaviour and be warned that it will not be tolerated.

Imagine having to deal with the pressure of going to work on a daily basis only to be bombarded by the unwelcome, degrading behaviour of a colleague who feels she/he must express his/her admiration when the feeling is not mutual. How can anyone perform in that environment?{{more}}

It is the employer’s responsibility to lay the foundation for a healthy work environment. Ensuring that sexual harassment is not tolerated is also a part of that responsibility. Workers want to know that their work is valued but they also want to feel safe in the place they spend most of their days.

This is a wake up call for employers who still have not taken a stand or even recognized that the problem exists even though it’s affecting their bottom line. The Caribbean workplace is changing and companies must change too. Where should a company start?

1. Adopt a sexual harassment policy. Companies worldwide are beginning to realize the legal ramifications of not having and enforcing a sexual harassment policy. If your company does not have such a policy, there are many examples readily available. There are also training companies and human resource companies that can help you develop one.

2. Educate your employees. It’s not enough to adopt a policy; all employees must be aware of the policy. In some countries when complaints are brought against a company, the government makes sexual harassment training mandatory for all employees and stiff penalties are also levied against that institution.

3. Deal with offenders. If an employer is aware that a man or woman is being harassed in the workplace and does nothing, that employer is just as guilty as the offender because in essence the company is condoning the behaviour by not addressing it. With that said, each sexual harassment complaint must be investigated, dealt with immediately and resolved in a timely fashion.

4. Establish a safe and confidential reporting procedure when incidents do occur. Having the policy is not enough. The process has to be confidential.

5. Encourage other employers to adopt similar policies across industries and enforce these regulations. ere is always power in numbers.

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