Harassment at the workplace is something that no employee should have to face. Women, in particular, are particularly susceptible to the problems of unwanted verbal or physical harassment in the workplace. These problems, however tough to discover at times, should not be ignored or brushed aside, but taken seriously and corrected.
While it is most certainly not the responsibility of the victim of harassment to adjust behaviors of coworkers, there are many preventative measures available to women that have proven effective to stop harassment. For women who are currently experiencing harassment or are unsure of whether workplace behaviors constitute harassment, there are options.
Heighten Awareness of the Problem
Having an open environment of discussion regarding discrimination and a formal company policy will help keep work a harassment-free zone. Open communication and basic reporting structures allow women to neutralize potential harassment in the workplace. For example, having open dialogue, such as annual discussions on workplace ethics, will further positive workplace behaviors and morale. With added visibility, female employees know ending workplace harassment is a conscious part of employers’ managerial training strategies and agendas.
Train Employees Appropriately
The proper training of employees neutralizes harassment of women in the workplace. Whether it is a devoted time—anti-harassment training week, for example—annually, or documentation signed at the beginning of employment; training is essential. Regularly updating this information throughout the company will provide employers with liability protection and enable women to rest-assured their rights are being protected. Properly trained managers are able to act efficiently and effectively when claims come up and expedite the immediate abatement and solution to harassment problems.
Use the Human Resources Department
Basic reporting structures limit harassment at the workplace, and are generally based in the human resources department. By having human resources as a safe-haven for harassment disputes, there is an available outlet for reporting abuse. If there is an HR representative assigned to listen to all comments, it acts as a neutral space and natural deterrent for unwanted behaviors. As prevention is key to neutralizing workplace harassment for women, HR is an important component. If there is an open forum, women can take action by speaking up.
Consider Anonymous Tip Reporting
Many workplaces also use preventative measures such as ethics hotlines or employee drop-boxes to alert supervisors of co-worker behavior, while remaining anonymous. Women experiencing harassment that feel unable to report abuse without undermining their coworkers or risking their own job or livelihood are able to send an e-mail, text, or call into a company hot-line to report the inappropriate action of a coworker, all while remaining anonymous.
Use Mediation if Necessary
If harassment is persistent, finding a workplace mediator is a great way women can neutralize it with professionalism. Seeking a professional’s aid is the ideal way to take a situation out of the hands of the employees, and keep it unbiased. Mediators are able to help valuable employees avoid litigation if they see fit and maintain confidentiality. If mediation is an appropriate action, women are able to voice claims with their employer without having to sue their employer, and instead filing a formal complaint. In this case, parties avoid disparaging the others publically and potentially can resolve some problems if appropriate to the situation.
Women gain ability to combat workplace harassment by expecting their company to do workplace audits annually. Employers check-up on their policies regarding workplace harassment by completing these workplace environment audits regularly and thoroughly. While this ensures a company is maintaining legal compliance, it also lets employees know that their complaints have been heard, properly investigated, and thoroughly concluded.