Programs that educate employees about sexual harassment are important for all businesses, large and small. Not only is it the law in many states, but it also protects employees from potential harm while working. See more about employee protection on this page.
There are a lot of trainers providing these programs. However, you should know where to start, and if so, you’re in the right place. The primary goal of the training is to provide a healthier culture and productive workplace. When you want to discourage discrimination, find out about the harsh consequences of inappropriate behaviors, and put anti-harassment policies in place, you need to find an effective company that can deliver results.
Tips to Have an Effective Training
1. Customized Everything According to your Business
You need to find a trainer to help you craft engaging training that aligns with the business’ vision and mission. Everything should be consistent with your operations and practices. It’s essential to place emphasis on the negative impact that bullying and harassment bring. This is not only a requirement, but the employer should define sexual harassment and impose penalties for those who do it.
2. Legal Compliance Isn’t the Goal
Companies do the training so they will have legal compliance. Most localities and states require employees to undergo in-person or online harassment training to protect everyone, but this should not be the only focus of the business. It’s vital to give behavioral examples that are not necessarily against the law but are considered unacceptable in the workplace. Describing a specific example and letting everyone know the consequences can be more effective than discussing what the terms mean legally.
3. Show Other Examples
Don’t joke about cheesy or obvious scenarios. Many workers are already aware of the unacceptable behaviors at work, but they might not be aware of chats, emails, texts, and sent photos that have sexual innuendos. They are still a form of harassment, and they should not be tolerated. Be specific about situations like when someone is oversharing about their romantic relationships, what if they always stand close to the other’s space, or they are making inappropriate jokes so everything is clearer.
4. Have Goals
After the program is finished, ask everyone about the lessons that they have learned and if they know the steps on what to do when they experience harassment. The goal is for HR to work on early intervention before things escalate and become out of proportion. It’s best to design training that will make sense in the workplace and identify the root causes of certain behaviors so they can be avoided.
Different Types to Know About
1. Quid pro quo: This type of sexual harassment occurs when an individual is in a position of power. For example, a supervisor, manager, or boss demands sexual favors from an employee in exchange for job benefits. These perks can include a promotion, raise, or favorable job assignment. This is considered the most serious type of sexual harassment because it involves an abuse of authority.
2. Hostile work environment: A hostile workplace creates an intimidating or offensive working environment due to the unwelcome behavior of another individual. The conduct must be severe or pervasive to create a negative atmosphere.
The isolated incidents or minor offenses will not typically rise to this level. Common examples of behavior that can contribute to a hostile work environment include lewd comments or jokes, unwanted touching or hugging, sexually explicit emails or texts, and displaying suggestive images in the workplace.
What Should You Do if you Experience this?
If you experience sexual harassment, there are a few things you can do to address the situation. First, try to talk to the person who is harassing you and let them know that their behavior is not welcome. If that does not work or you feel unsafe, you can report the incident to your supervisor or human resources department. You can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if things get out of hand. See more harassment about this in this file: https://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/whatissh.pdf.
Who should Receive the Training?
These programs should be mandatory for all employees, regardless of their position or length of time with the company. New hires should receive training as part of their orientation, and all employees should receive annual refresher courses as time passes. Under anti-discrimination laws, managers and supervisors should receive more comprehensive training that covers their additional responsibilities.
What Can Companies Do?
The training should constitute the following:
1. Be mandatory for all employees.
2. It should be conducted by a qualified trainer who is familiar with the relevant laws and regulations.
3. Cover the definition of sexual harassment and the types of conduct that constitute this inappropriate behavior.
4. Include real-life examples that have happened in the past in the workplace.
5. Encourage employees to report any incidents that they witness or experience.
6. Provide employees with information about the company’s complaint procedures and their rights under the law.