The Harvey Weinstein scandal shone a spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace.
One year on, are employers implementing effective measures to prevent this type of behaviour occurring?
The sad reality is that it doesn’t seem that employers are not doing enough.
A recent survey by law firm, Slater and Gordon, has uncovered that 52% of respondents believe that their employer hasn’t taken any measures to address sexual harassment in the workplace and 56% were not aware of a policy regarding sexual harassment in their company.
Most worryingly of all, 20% of respondents commented that this type of conduct was “the norm” and 70% did not report instances of harassment.
This shows that this isn’t a problem that will just go away. Employers need to deal with harassment when it arises, but they should also be taking proactive steps to train staff on awareness and prevention.
What can employers do to prevent harassment in their workplace?
Here are five key tips:
- Make sure that it is clear to all employees that you do not tolerate any forms of discrimination, harassment or bullying in your workplace;
- Have clear policies and procedures in place, setting out the standards of behaviour and the consequences if an employee’s conduct falls below these standards. If you do not have an Employee Handbook or it has not been reviewed in a long time, seek advice from your Employment Law Adviser;
- Work on creating a workplace culture where people feel they can speak to senior management about any inappropriate behaviour or comments – whether they are the victim of sexual harassment or have witnessed it;
- Make sure your employees understand that your senior leadership team take instances of harassment issue very seriously. Managers should lead by example; and
- Provide regular training to your managers and supervisors so they understand what types of behaviour crosses the line and take action when needed.
James Tamm, Director of Legal Services
James Tamm, Director of Legal Services at Ellis Whittam, comments “Recent events have heightened awareness of all types of harassment. Quite rightly, employees are now less willing to tolerate this sort of behaviour. As a result, it is more important than ever that those employers have proper procedures in place to deal with issues when they arise. Proactive steps, such as training and education, should ensure fewer instances of harassment and will encourage individuals to speak out when it does occur. In addition, these sorts of reasonable preventative measures should help protect employers if harassment occurs”.
How can Ellis Whittam help?
Ellis Whittam can provide you with training courses for your organisation. We can help you identify ways of promoting equality & diversity; recognise and distinguish between direct and indirect discrimination; pinpoint harassment, victimisation and bullying behaviour and take appropriate action to develop a fairer, more inclusive working environment for all. Contact us to find out more.