Harassment and Retaliation
Despite all the policies and procedures that organizations invest in to head off workplace harassment, and all the efforts that go into applying them fairly, those who report harassment still risk retaliation. While the retaliation may not be obvious on the surface, it can take many forms: termination, transfer, demotion, less-than-stellar reviews – the list is endless.
In an article dated December 12, 2018, the Wall Street Journal is quoted saying: “…more than 45,000 harassment complaints [were] filed with the EEOC…of those, nearly all were ultimately fired or left their jobs voluntarily when they felt their work environment became intolerable. (1)
According to the DOI (Department of the Interior):
- Retaliatory actions are not limited to formal personnel actions such as termination, demotion, non-promotion, or non-selection.
- Retaliatory actions are broadly defined as harassing behavior, significant changes to job duties or working conditions, and even threats to take personnel actions.
- Retaliation against employees who engage in protected activities… is also prohibited by that policy. (2)
Employees struggle with identifying those who can be trusted and those whom they know they can’t trust. With the level of restitution that is being meted out along with the defrocking of members in prestigious occupations, one would think the accused would be more cognizant of the fact that Retaliation and Retribution are, in and of themselves, forms of harassment.
In a study by the EEOC, for every case of harassment that is reported, there are three that fall by the wayside. This under-reporting can be a result of fear, shame or even cultural differences.
The Benefits of Anonymous Reporting
Many studies have been conducted to get to the underlying causes of these types of behavior. What has been uncovered is that Workplace Culture can be the single largest contributor to this toxicity. With a fear-driven reporting system, fear of retaliation, fear of discovery, fear of ridicule, fear for the loss of a job, fear for personal safety or uncomfortable reporting, these fears can run amok and lead to negative workplace culture. Incidents will continue to go unreported.
TellZen’s confidential workforce engagement platform allows for the anonymity needed to safely report ethics and compliance violations without the risk of retaliation. Through the Third Party Employee Advocacy Management process, employees can report anonymously through TellZen’s server, knowing that their concerns and issues will be routed to the right employee advocate. They can continue to monitor the situation, communicate and get updates without disclosing their identity to those within the organization.
TellZen’s system can also be used to identify “hot spots” within organizations through secure surveys. The system not only promotes transparency, but it also encourages a healthy workplace culture while building on Inclusiveness and Diversity.
The Tellzen solution resides on a separate cloud; the resources are not controlled by the client company thereby removing the process from the company’s IT assets and making it tamper-proof. This removes the temptation and accessibility of any internal personnel who may be inclined to alter or quash an incident report.
By assigning an anonymous ID that is used strictly for communication, and avoiding any possibility of identification, this anonymity protects the employee from recrimination, removing all “fears” and empowering the employee to openly discuss the issues.