Do not let your business fall behind.
A small investment into sexual harassment training on your end can be worth more than you can imagine.
Because sexual harassment is more common than you think.
According to Safe Work Australia, one in three people have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years. Clearly, sexual harassment remains an issue in many work environments today. Many companies have seen an increase in workplace harassment complaints, and most of them have the same thing in common: they do not provide essential sexual harassment training to their staff.
While some employees may know what behaviours constitute sexual harassment, others do not – or they do not realise that their workplaces have strong anti-harassment policies that they actively follow and enforce. This is where sexual harassment training comes into play. Training lets every individual know what constitutes sexual harassment and what the associated penalties are for engaging in such behaviours.
It is the responsibility of everyone to do the right thing when it comes to professional respect at work, not just because the law says so, but because everybody has the right to be treated fairly and with respect.
What Benefits Does Training Provide?
Brings a sense of safety to staff
A sexual harassment training program can make employees feel better about their workplace and convey that their company’s leaders genuinely care. Employees feel more like they are working together as a team, trying to achieve a common goal. An increased feeling of safety at work can lead to a higher return on investment, improving employee productivity as well as interpersonal relations.
Safety also helps to foster a culture of greater transparency and communication among leaders and staff. In many cases, those who are being sexually harassed do not report to their employers in fear of being penalised and seen as a troublemaker.
Sexual harassment training can help employers, managers, contractors and volunteers learn how to participate in environments where everyone feels safe, empowered by the knowledge that they can report incidents without fear of reprisal.
Instead, if employees feel that a co-worker’s actions are making them uncomfortable, they will feel empowered to speak up. And when employees and supervisors have seen examples of sexual harassment, they can recognise it and take steps to address the behaviour before things escalate.
Sexual harassment can be disastrous for the victims; it can also incur extensive costs for employers associated with investigations, penalties and reputational damage.
Protecting your business from the bad guys – don’t fall behind
Employers can be held responsible for the sexual harassment of an employee by another employee even if they have no knowledge that these behaviours are taking place. Training can furnish employees with proof that their employers are taking proactive steps to prevent harassment from taking place. It can also can help you to formulate other preventive measures as well.
Successful components to a sexual harassment prevention training program
Clearly defining harassment with direct and specific language
Employees may be unaware that their behaviour is inappropriate or making a co-worker uncomfortable. Effective training will clearly define sexual harassment by using language that is easy to understand.
Sexual harassment can broadly be defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” (Source: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
Use specific examples of prohibited conduct
Along with providing definitions of terms, effective sexual harassment training will give examples of what is and is not sexual harassment, which will empower employees to spot and prevent harassment.
There are some obvious forms of sexual harassment, such as a supervisor requesting sexual favours in exchange for a promotion. But there are also more subtle forms of harassment that include and are not limited to:
• inappropriate jokes or noises
• repeated, unwelcome requests for a date.
• staring or leering
• a suggestive comment
• a sexually explicit picture or poster
Effective sexual harassment training uses various examples and scenarios that are relevant to your work environment. You can’t fit every scenario into your training, but providing examples helps bring clarity and specificity to your employees.
It is also important to keep in mind that training should be made for everyone. After all, employees at any level and of any gender can be victims or harassers.