Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace can seriously damage your company’s brand and make it difficult to attract and retain quality employees. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), nearly half of all harassment complaints received by the Commission in 2015 were related to sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment allegations have real-life consequences for businesses. They’ve proven to be the downfall of a number of moguls in the past few months. In February, Steve Wynn, founder of Wynn Resorts, a casino giant, stepped down as chairman and chief executive among sexual harassment allegations. Just this month, Morgan Stanley manager Robert Perry, who oversaw the company’s Beverly Hills, California wealth management office, left the firm after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed earlier in the year against one of the branch’s top brokers. These are just two high-profile cases among many, including celebrity chefs John Besh and Mario Batali, Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Javier Palomarez, and no less than 11 top-level executives at Nike, all of whom left their posts amid sexual harassment claims.

The EEOC stresses that the actual number of sexual harassment incidents is likely far higher than what is reported, estimating that only around 10 percent of individuals who experience any kind of harassment file a complaint. But based on testimony to the EEOC’s Select Task Force, up to 85 percent of women report having been sexually harassed on the job.

How HR Can Take a Proactive Approach

Human resources departments across the country are grappling with how to address sexual harassment following the #MeToo movement. One thing is certain: Wishing it away, turning a blind eye, or assuming that a charge of sexual harassment can be resolved quietly is not a good strategy for reducing sexual harassment in the workplace. A proactive approach to addressing harassment problems protects both your company and your employees. Here are some ways you can promote a harassment-free workplace and effectively address problems when they arise.

Be empathetic

Empathy goes a long way toward making your employees feel comfortable and secure in the workplace. Let employees know that you will take sexual harassment claims seriously, take action, and provide support.

Diversify

A diverse workforce that includes women and men from a broad range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds helps to disrupt conventional power structures that can foster many types of harassment.

Make policy changes

Create or update your company’s policies related to sexual harassment. Communicate internally and with the workforce about your company’s expectations, the process for reporting harassment, and the consequences of harassing another employee.

Train your workforce

Mandatory training sessions can raise employee awareness about sexual harassment, define what it is, and lay out how it will be treated.

Make reporting easy

TellZen provides a confidential platform for reporting cases of sexual harassment. It empowers both the victim of harassment and the company to take the necessary steps to address the problem, and it promotes honest, ongoing, interactive communication between the employee and the company in a transparent, retaliation-free environment.

Accountability and a proactive approach to sexual harassment are central to creating a safe, nurturing work environment and promoting the wellbeing of both the company and its employees. Contact TellZen today to talk about how you can help prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace.