It is naïve to think that sexual harassment does not exist within your workplace.
It is naïve to think that you, as the business owner, would know if there is sexual harassment in your business.
It is naïve to assume that because you don’t know about it, no one is feeling sexually harassed.
It is naïve to assume that everyone is comfortable with the office banter.
It is naïve to believe that if someone is being sexually harassed, they will come forward.
It is naïve to believe that if someone is being sexually harassed, others will stick up for them.
It is naïve to think that it is always a male sexually harassing a female.
It is naïve to think that same sex sexual harassment is not a problem.
It is naïve to assume that a female manager will not sexually harass a male junior.
It is naïve to assume that sexual harassment is not used to exert power.
It is naïve to believe that sexual harassment will stop on its own.
It is naïve to believe that sexual harassment is harmless.
As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees. You must ensure that your workplace is a physically and psychologically safe place to be. You are obliged to have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment.
Easy steps to achieve this:
- Have a clear policy which states that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
- Communicate your policy in employment contracts and employee handbooks.
- Deliver training to all employees on how to create and maintain an environment. which is safe and free from sexual harassment for everyone.
- Embed a culture of respect in your business.
- Ensure that all new employees are aware of your policy and culture.
- Lead by example and don’t turn a blind eye for anyone.
- Investigate every concern or grievance raised and take appropriate action in line with your disciplinary policy.
- Support both alleged victims and alleged perpetrators – there are always two sides to every story.
Fail to manage sexual harassment, and you are as bad as the perpetrator. If the employee brings a claim, it is possible that the business, you as the owner and the perpetrator will all be named as defendants.
One final warning: Intention is irrelevant, it is perception which counts.
If the victim feels they have been sexually harassed, they have!