It’s becoming increasingly harder to watch the news without hearing of new allegations of sexual assault. Hollywood is, quite rightly, in the spotlight at the minute and will be for years to come. However, normal, run-of-the-mill businesses aren’t immune to allegations either. What has been shocking about revelations is how prevalent sexual impropriety is in the workplace. Women from around the world, from all walks of life, have shared very similar stories. This means one thing – it may happen in your business. So, the question for bosses is: “what can I do to support the work of #MeToo?” Here are four pieces of advice that will help.
It’s a massive cliché, but the first step on the path to recovery is to admit there is a problem. Don’t get sucked into the attitude that it’s only the top movie execs that are to blame. Sexual assault in the workplace takes many forms and your employees may see it on a daily basis. By understanding it happens, it will make the company more aware. Also, and this is essential, it encourages the management to take a stand. Accepting that it can be a problem anywhere in the world means you have to make the office aware of the company’s policies and what is and is not acceptable.
Let’s not dilute your role because the boss always has the final say. However, you can’t deal with potentially hundreds of people o a daily basis. There is a reason for managers – they’re the firm’s eyes and ears. They should also be the police officers in the office regarding sexual harassment. Managers are the first port of call. For example, a worker will go to them to report the issue because they have a connection. But, if the line managers aren’t empowered, then the workforce won’t feel as if they can communicate. Ensure they know how to listen and help, but, most importantly, make sure they make coming forward easier.
And Outsource Expertise
The company needs detailed and exhaustive policies to safeguard its employees. There’s one hitch – you’re not an expert. Everyone understands the basics because they are not complicated. But, once you get into the nitty-gritty, then it becomes harder to police. Winer, McKenna & Burritt is a law firm that deals with sexual harassment cases. With a law firm such as this on your side, it is far easier to create solid, unshakeable policies. Please don’t let ego get in the way. Where there is a gap in knowledge, you should outsource to a third-party.
Make Training Mandatory
Training seminars are a good idea even if the office is squeaky clean. Firstly, some people may not know what constitutes harassment and assault. As shocking as it sounds, it’s true. Secondly, training reinforces the business’s rules and regulations. Sending out an email blast is a start but it only raises awareness of the issue. To change behaviors, the firm has to teach its employees how to act professionally.
How do you plan on helping the women and men who have been brave enough to speak out?