The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” According to most surveys, three in every five women have experienced different levels of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also happen to men: Surveys show that every one out of five men has experienced it as well. Sexual harassment can happen on any occasion, and workplace harassment is one of the most common scenarios.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can immediately damage a company’s working environment. Costly harassment complaints also deteriorate a firm’s reputation, recruiting and retention. To prevent sexual harassment from happening, relevant training should be the priority of human resource managers. Successful sexual harassment training ensures employees know about the right actions to take when they witness or experience sexual harassment.
The EEOC requires every employer to offer sexual harassment training for all employees. If any sexual harassment complaint is filed, the EEOC will investigate to see if the company has implemented relevant training. Firms are legally responsible for the actions of their employees. And, according to the EEOC, the best tool to minimize the cost of workplace sexual harassment is prevention. To prevent sexual harassment from happening, a training program is necessary. The following are five tips for developing effective sexual harassment training.
1. Involve Every Employee
Sexual harassment training should be a mandatory course for everyone in the company. It is very likely that employees, unless they are harassers or victims, may not pay any attention during the training. Most people still assume sexual harassment is something that will not happen to them. And employees usually cannot make the right decision or take correct action when they encounter a real case. So, trying to engage everyone during the training process is important.
2. Create Harassment Policies
Specific written company policies can significantly decrease the rate of sexual harassment inside a firm. In addition, these policies can be used as evidence of the company’s stance toward harassment. When creating the policies, the company should include the following three crucial points:
Define sexual harassment
Prohibit actions considered to be harassment
Clarify the procedure of reporting misconduct
3. Build a No Tolerance Environment
It is necessary to make employees understand that there is zero tolerance for workplace sexual harassment. In order to build such an environment, managers can encourage workers to report anything they see, hear or feel that is suspicious. Make sure the conversation is private, and employees feel safe reporting such incidents.
4. Offer Ongoing Training
Sexual harassment training should not be only a one-time course, because its content cannot be completely covered in one class. Instead, companies should break the material into different segments and provide regular training to employees.
5. Tailor Training Courses to the Company’s Unique Situation
The definition of sexual harassment is broad. In fact, different industries experience various types of sexual misconduct. Numerous managers only use general third-party course materials because these materials are more convenient and less expensive. However, these general training materials do not always apply to their own specific organization or industry. Managers should be aware of the unique company situation and tailor their training courses accordingly.
Determining your specific company situation and customizing your sexual harassment training can be time-consuming and difficult. Click here to contact a CoreAxis specialist to give you professional insights into developing training materials unique to your company.