Workplace Sexual Harassment

Best Practices For Organisations

It is in every organisation’s interest to ensure a workplace that is harassment free.

A responsible employer will want to ensure the safety of its staff and a healthy conducive working environment. Harassment incidents lower the productivity and morale of the victim and staff. Organisations that do not have policies and processes in place may be thrown into confusion and scramble blindly when an incident occurs.

A single incident may cause ruin or severely affect the reputation of the company and may result in the company having to pay large settlement amounts to the victim.

It is thus important for employers to establish a zero tolerance culture towards harassment.

  1. Establish a strong written company policy that:-

    • Explicitly prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace
    • Specifies, with examples, what constitutes sexual harassment
    • Identifies clear grievance procedures
    • Specifies disciplinary action will be taken, including termination
    • Extends the definition of workplace sexual harassment beyond the physical office space, and beyond staff directly employed by the company
    • Avoids language that may discourage complaints
    • Includes a non-retaliation policy
  2. Establish clear procedures to tackle grievances and complaints of sexual harassment
    • Allow employees to report to any one of several individuals
    • Process should allow employee to bypass current superiors
    • Check all complaints promptly
    • Ensure strict confidentiality and impartiality in the treatment of complaints of sexual harassment
    • Provide assurance against retaliation for victims and witnesses
  3. Training and Awareness
    • Provide training for managers and supervisors to develop their skills and sensitivity to deal with complaints effectively
    • Provide regular training for staff on sexual harassment policies
    • Ensure that all employees and new hires are given copies of the harassment policy and procedures
  4. Practice What is Preached
    • Ensure managers and staff comply with the harassment policy