Old Problem, New Solutions: Solving Workplace Harassment from the Top Down
Sexual violence and harassment is a serious problem that can negatively affect the workplace. It has been around unfortunately for some time, but as time goes on we’re learning about better ways to deal with the problem through a top-down approach. It can be quite harmful to the victim, family and friends around them and communities in general. Work should be a safe place where things can get done and a business can flourish. It is up to upper management to put practices in place to combat sexual harassment.
Applying Prevention Efforts
Prevention should be the number one area that people in management focus on, as it has the possibility to decrease the amount of individuals who are capable of perpetrating sexual violence and reducing the number of victims.
Prevention approaches are there to reduce risk factors and instead replace them with protective forces that can eliminate sexual violence entirely. A comprehensive guide to prevention can help influence the workplace to be a positive place devoid of sexual harassment.
Some of the most common strategies are able to focus on all areas of people who may be involved during the harassment. These can be split into the one doing the harassment, the victim and people standing by. Arming potential victims with the ability to be aware and have self-defense is called a risk reduction technique. Bystander education can help change strategies so that social norms can be changed on going against sexual violence when it occurs and empowering men and women to intervene from an assault happening.
Sexual Discrimination Defined
Sexual harassment can occur in a workplace when someone is trying to exert control or power over someone through sexual means. It is a form of sexual discrimination and violates Title VII of the federal Civil Rights act.
There are two types of sexual harassment. One of the first terms you might be familiar with is Quid Pro Quo harassment that means “this for that.” It is the kind of harassment that would dangle a job reward in front of someone or punishment as a ways of forcing someone into a sexual relationship.
Another more subtle form of sexual harassment is through hostile environment harassment. It would be from workers claiming that the workplace is sexually charged and making the place an uncomfortable location to work at. If you feel like any of this is happening to you, don’t hesitate to call a criminal defense attorney.
Methods of Sexual Harassment
A hostile environment can include a lot of troubling things. If there are repeated innuendos, obscene jokes, sexual remarks or content in emails or notes, propositions of any kind, pornographic images can constitute some. These are verbal but can lead into unwelcomed personal space being invaded, being asked for sexual favors in some way or another.
These are all areas of unlawful sexual harassment. Review the previous points to see if you have a true case on your hand so that you can get help and stop the harassment. If you are not the one involved with it, but have heard through other people or the actual victim themselves then go ahead and see what can be done.
It would be recommended that you go to HR right away with this type of information. They are adept at dealing with these problems and will bring it to the forefront to be fixed and stopped immediately. Any necessary law enforcement or firing depending on the severity will be addressed promptly. Top down enforcement is done so that this doesn’t happen any more in the workplace.
Enforcing the Rules
It is of everyone’s best interest to not engage in any behavior that can be misconstrued as sexual harassment. It is a real problem and you don’t want anyone getting mixed up with it. If you are in a position of power to enforce or do something about it, there are key things you can do to enforce and teach the people in your workplace.
One of your first orders of business is to figure out what is deemed sexual harassment, and where it might be being perpetuated. But before it comes to that, you can direct and advise your employees with basic rules
Do not allow unprompted or unwelcome physical contact with others, and do not be demeaning to others. Suggestive comments can lead to bad places and always make sure doors are open, meaning everyone can see what’s going on. Under federal law it is illegal to go against someone who files a claim, instead help them to the greatest of your ability.
Samantha Stephenson works to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. She is a training and development coordinator who visits places of work to promote better understanding, and prevent incidents of workplace harassment.