Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace can be a minefield in certain cases. A manager asking a subordinate for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or a salary increase is always sexual harassment and as such must be explicitly prohibited, with channels for people subjected to it to report the matter in safety and confidentiality. But what about the occasional off-color joke or someone asking someone else out on a date? In such cases, the matter can be a little murky and in the eye of the beholder.

For example, a crude joke might be funny for one person but offensive to another. Similarly, one person who is asked out on a date by a coworker might be agreeable to the suggestion, whereas someone else might find the idea gross or silly. What kind of company policy would handle each situation?

Addressing the Issue

Many companies these days institute sexual harassment training that teaches employees some of the dos and don’ts when dealing with such matters. These kinds of programs are sadly necessary because, while in the past people were raised to treat the opposite gender with respect, such is often not the case. Adults are forced to learn what previous generations were taught by their parents.

Some companies draw the line of casual sexual harassment at persistence. It is all right if someone tells a crude joke and, if someone who is offended lets it be known, the office comedian apologizes and doesn’t do it again. Similarly, asking someone out on a date and being refused is all right, so long as the person doing the asking does not persist.

On the other hand, other companies draw a stricter line, a zero-tolerance, no fraternization policy. The theory is that employees are there to work, not to fool around. Besides, even good office relationships can end badly, causing problems in the workplace.

The key, therefore, to heading off sexual harassment is to set a policy, make certain that the employees know what is expected of them, and spell out what is the recourse for the victims and sanctions for the perpetrators.

TellZen SAAS offers a solution that provides a safe way for all of your employees to share information, including ideas to tamp down on sexual harassment while keeping their identity confidential. The solution uses easy interactive text messaging leading to an empowered employee culture.