Your employees are the backbone of your company. How safe and happy they feel in the organization will directly affect their productivity and overall workplace environment. That’s why it is your responsibility to ensure the utmost safety at the workplace. You need to formulate strict company policies and create an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable sharing their experience.
Taking such steps becomes even more important when you look at the sexual harassment statistics given below.
- According to reports of NPR (National Public Radio), approximately 38% of women experience sexual harassment in their workplace.
- Another survey reported that 46% of employees fear retaliation. While 39% of employees said, their complaints remain unaddressed.
- 7 in 10 employees do not take no-harassment culture seriously.
Such reports are surely disheartening and affect the employees’ morale to a severe degree. That’s why, as a business owner, you must create and implement a strict sexual harassment policy. And in order to develop a policy, you must understand the difference between sexual and non-sexual harassment.
According to United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment include “unwelcoming” or “inappropriate” sexual advances, requests related to intimacy, or verbal or physical molestation of sexual nature. In short, in an organization, any form of discrimination that revolves around unwanted comments or behavior related to gender, sex, or sexual orientation is an act of molestation. Thus, it would be best to take the necessary action to resolve such issues.
However, you must understand that the act of simple teasing, isolated incidents of non-serious nature, or offhand comments are “not prohibited” in the law. An act can only be identified as molestation if it is frequent or creates an offensive work environment.
Every employee must understand the acts or behaviors that come under the category of molestation. It will ensure that employees avoid such behavior or report them.
- Inappropriate touching, including patting, pinching, or brushing up against the person.
- Unwelcoming comments about somebody’s body part, clothing, or appearance.
- Sharing or displaying inappropriate images or videos with co-workers.
- Making unsuitable sexual gestures, lewd remarks, or sexual anecdotes.
- Offensive comments about somebody’s sexual orientation.
These are examples of acts or behavior that must be avoided in the workplace. In case such behavior is reported, it is wise to contact an attorney. You should also educate the employees about measures to protect themselves, especially if they are falsely accused.
For instance, if someone is falsely accused of molestation, they must connect with a sex crimes attorney who has experience in “defense” cases. An attorney with their knowledge and experience can help build their case using factual evidence; thus, ensuring their protection.
Not every offensive behavior that creates a hostile work environment is sexual in nature. Sometimes discrimination that includes breach of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is also the conduct of workplace harassment.
To put it simply, an act of making a negative or racist comment, offensive gestures, slangs, or clothing are a non-sexual way of harassment or bullying. Such cases should also be addressed similar to the offensive behaviors mentioned above.
Any behavior that upsets the working environment and causes a threat to the person must be prohibited in the business. A few examples of such acts are given below:
- Negative comments about a person’s religion, ideology, or trying to convert them to a certain religion.
- Making offensive gestures displaying racist drawings, pictures, or videos that might hurt the sentiments of a particular community.
- Using racist nicknames, phrases, or slang.
- Remarks on a person’s physical disability, mental health, ethnic traits, or skin color.
- Disrespectful age or gender-related comments.
What Steps Can You Take?
Sexual or not, it is essential that you create a serene environment in the organization. There should be proper policies that define the consequences of such acts. Make sure that such issues are addressed on a priority basis and include attorneys. They have knowledge about the country and state laws, thus can provide a favorable solution to such issues.
Apart from this, you should host regular meetings to seek opinions or suggestions from your employees to improve the working environment. You can also set up a help box or helpline number that employees can use to report the acts mentioned above.
To Sum It All Up
Workplace safety should be one of the priorities of every business owner. It is essential that the necessary steps are taken to ensure a positive and productive environment. You should also consult an attorney while creating the harassment policy for protecting every employee’s interest.
This is a Sponsored Post – the author has requested this post be shared on WE Magazine for Women and WE were compensated for sharing.