Difficult as it may be to admit, sexual harassment is a rather common experience for most workers. As a matter of fact, it is an issue that affects both men and women in today’s world. Ideally, workers should be immersed in an environment that allows them to feel confident and capable of advancing their ambitions. However, in some cases, workers are forced to endure sexual harassment at work without knowing what to do about it. Statistics show that more than 50% of employees have experienced sexual harassment at work at one time or the other. So today on Innovate Today, we’ll take a look at five things you can do if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment also affects both employees and employers. For employers, the issue is equally important because it affects staff productivity. The truth is that if your employees are not happy or feel unsafe in your company, they will leave. This could lead to losing competent staff to competitors, thus affecting company growth. Also, if employees are attacked while at work, they could sue your company for not providing a safe workplace.
That being said, we would like to provide you with links to other related posts on our website. We believe you will find them equally beneficial:
- How to Build great Relationships in the Workplace
- Five Simple Strategies for managing Stress in the Workplace
- Four ways to encourage Career Growth and Personal Development in the Workplace
- The Importance of Integrity in the Workplace
- Ten Career Development Tips for a Successful Year
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In the next sections, we will take a look at what constitutes sexual harassment at work, how to recognize it and what to do if you experience it.
What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. When this happens at work, it is called sexual harassment in the workplace. That being said, relationships between colleagues at work are not uncommon or wrong. However, when they are unwelcome, forced, or involve a quid pro quo, it is sexual harassment.
To clarify, let’s consider the example of a supervisor at work. If this supervisor demands sexual favors in exchange for a positive annual review, or promotion, that is sexual harassment. Also note that the behavior does not have to be of a sexual nature. For example, sexual harassment could also include offensive remarks about a person’s gender.
How to recognize Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can happen in different ways in the workplace. It could range from direct requests for sexual favors to repeated lewd or offensive remarks about someone to inappropriate suggestions. Here are some questions to ask to recognize sexual harassment at work:
- Is it inappropriate or offensive?
- Does the situation or request keep repeating itself?
- Is it unwelcome?
- Does it make you or the person uncomfortable or feel unsafe?
- Does it involve a quid pro quo transaction of sexual favors for workplace advancement?
Most people have witnessed or experienced inappropriate sexual comments or actions at work that made them uncomfortable. However, many people disregard them because they do not know that it is sexual harassment. If the situation gives a positive answer to the questions listed above, it is probably sexual harassment.
Now, let’s take a look at what to do if you witness or are a victim of sexual harassment at work.
Five things you can do if you experience Sexual Harassment at Work
If you believe you’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, here are five things you can do:
- Make it clear that it’s unwelcome by saying No:One term that defines sexual harassment is that it is unwelcome. To avoid excuses down the road, be sure to tell the harasser that such conduct is unwelcome. You can do this by letting the person know that such behavior is offensive and unacceptable. Also, firmly refuse all gifts, invitations for dates or other activities outside of work. If the harassment continues, you could decide to take your complaint to your employer or HR department. In such a case, it will help if you can say that you’ve made it clear the conduct is unwelcome.
- Document It: While you decide on your next steps, begin to keep records of the sexual harassment. You can do this by documenting details of the harassment, including date, location it occurred and names of witnesses. This way, if you eventually report the harassment to your employer, you can present detailed examples. Also be sure to keep your documented records somewhere safe and easily accessible.
- Gather your Work Records: Some sexual harassers may try to defend themselves against your claim by attacking your job performance. They may claim that it is your excuse for getting a poor performance grade from them. To prevent this, put together copies of your performance reviews and letters documenting the quality of your work. This can serve as evidence of your job performance later. However, if you can’t get copies of your personnel file, you should take notes of its contents, in case it is tampered with.
- Report the Sexual Harassment to your Employer: It is very important that you report the harassment because your employer. This is because they are legally responsible for investigating and taking action in a sexual harassment case. The best step in such as case is to inform your supervisor or Human Resources department to investigate and stop the harassment. It is best to notify them in writing, including copies of your evidence and attempts to stop it. Doing this creates a written record of your complaint and forces your employer to respond. Also, If there is a policy employees are supposed to follow when reporting harassment, you should follow the policy as best as possible.
- Be prepared for Consequences: Sadly, it is not uncommon for victims of workplace sexual harassment to face retaliation of some sort. Donna Ballman is an Employment Lawyer with over 30 years experience. In her Forbes interview, she explains that retaliation against victims of sexual harassment is quite common. In other cases, there is the stigma of being known as the person who reported sexual harassment. So before reporting sexual harassment, prepare a plan to help navigate any retaliatory actions against you. Doing things like updating your resume or engaging in a job search can help you feel more in control. Also take steps ahead of time to prepare yourself financially if you have to change jobs.
Have you been faced with sexual harassment in your place of work? How did you handle it? If you are an Employer, what policies have you put in place to protect your employees from such issues? Feel free to leave us your comments or share your experiences in the Comment section at the end of this post. As always, we would love to hear from you.
Today’s Funny Quote
Our funny quote today is by H. L. Mencken, the Journalist and Scholar of American English
For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.
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