A report from TUC, in association with the Everyday Sexism Project, found that 52% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The statistics are shocking, and they demonstrate that whilst we may have come a long way in recent years, there are still serious problems that are deeply engrained into workplace cultures.
Reputable employers know that they have a responsibility to stamp out unacceptable behaviour, but what does this look like in practical terms?
Here, we tell you what you really need to know.
Don’t ignore ‘banter’
Most workplaces have their fair share of jokes and lighthearted jibes. It’s vital though that you recognise that it’s never okay to make ‘flippant’ comments. Even if the person making the remarks doesn’t think that they’re offensive or serious, this is no defense.
The research found that 32% of women have been on the receiving end of unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, so it’s quite likely that this has happened within your business. The stance that you need to take here is clear. Tackle inappropriate behaviour head-on, regardless of the intention. Ensuring your employee handbook and documentation is up to date is key to this - find out more here.
Look beneath the surface
Perhaps you’re thinking that you have no problems when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. After all, surely your employees would come to you if they were facing issues? Well, not necessarily. Shockingly, 4 out of 5 women who have experienced sexual harassment did not report it.
The reasons why are somewhat obvious. Often, the perpetrator holds a higher position, and the victim worries about losing their job. So before you jump to the assumption that everything’s fine in your business, take a closer look at what might be happening.
Reinforce your standards
Of course, it’s easy to argue that grown adults in a civilised society shouldn’t have to be told that sexual harassment is wrong. As an employer though, you have a responsibility to make your standards absolutely crystal clear. Now could be a good time to roll out refresher training, and ensure that your staff have a strong understanding of their role in stamping out unacceptable behaviour. If you feel you need support with training, either inhouse or as an external course, we can help.
Be sure that your staff know exactly what constitutes as sexual harassment, communicate this in a robust policy, and outline how you will facilitate the process of dealing with problems.
Help from HJS Human Resources to get things right
Dropping the ball when it comes to tackling sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t an option. Neglect your duties as an employer, and you could face employment tribunals, a fractured workforce, and a seriously damaged reputation.
If you’re concerned about issues in your workforce, or you’re eager to ensure that you’re meeting the mark, our team are here to help.
For a confidential discussion about your circumstances call us on 01722 325833 or contact us here.