Sexual Harassment Prevention

Sexual harassment can take numerous forms, from crude and inappropriate comments to inappropriate touching. Victims of sexual harassment suffer from trauma, frustration, and inability to work or learn their best. Preventing sexual harassment at work and school can reduce the number of victims. Unfortunately, policies aren’t enough. Utilizing several key strategies, from education to enforcement, can reduce harassment in the workplace or at school. Learn more with Helping Survivors. 

Victims of sexual harassment suffer challenges ranging from depression and anxiety to difficulty performing in the workplace or at school. They may have their ideas cast aside on the basis of gender or sexuality, or they may feel unable to speak out about teasing, crude behavior, jokes, or unwanted physical contact. Unfortunately, in many organizations, sexual harassment remains unnoticed by people with the power to stop it until it has already placed a heavy load on the victims. 

At Helping Survivors, we understand the issues faced by victims of sexual harassment. We aim to give victims the support they need to move forward and prevent sexual harassment before it starts. These important strategies can create safer workplaces and schools. 

What Is Sexual Harassment?

How to Prevent Sexual Harassment

 Several critical steps can help prevent sexual harassment and make the workplace or school environment more effective and safer for everyone. 

  1. Developing a Clear Sexual Harassment Policy

The first step in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is having a clear policy against harassment. Employers should create guidelines using clear language outlining prohibited behavior and the consequences perpetrators will face. 

Furthermore, the policy should lay out how victims of harassment can report it. Without clear mechanisms for reporting harassment, victims may suffer longer before they get the help and support they need. 

  1. Training Employees

The idea that sexual harassment is unacceptable may seem so obvious that it should not require training. However, all employees must know about the workplace sexual harassment policy and what consequences they face for violating it.

In addition to clear training that names the conditions that create sexual harassment, employees need to learn what to do when they witness sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Speak up and stop harassment in its tracks.
  • Report harassment when they see it, not just when directed at them.
  • Take notes of details so they can serve as witnesses later.

Training can also cover lesser-known issues related to sexual harassment, including how women can harass men or harassment on the basis of sexuality. By empowering and training staff, employers can create a better workplace where people are less likely to suffer harassment. 

  1. Training Management Team Members

Training management team members to avoid and address harassment can prove critical. According to the Hiscox Workplace Harassment Study, 73 percent of people accused of harassment are in a senior position to the person they harass. Not only do managers need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions, including any harassing behaviors, but they also need to know what oversight is in place. 

  1. Taking Accusations Seriously

It’s easy for employers to sweep accusations of sexual harassment under the rug. The following are some all-too-common responses:

  • “Oh, I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way.”
  • “He hasn’t ever behaved like that before. It must have been an accident.”
  • “Is that really what happened?”

If an employer’s initial reaction to an accusation of sexual harassment is to brush it off or blame the victim, future victims will feel less confident about coming forward. On the other hand, if they take accusations seriously and launch an investigation, future victims will feel more empowered to speak up and stop the harassment.

  1. Using Stated Punishments

Employers must consistently implement the punishments specified in their sexual harassment policies. That means no exceptions for higher-up management team members, those with track records of good behavior, or those who are highly connected. Employers must make it clear that there will be consequences for harassment in the workplace. 

  1. Protect Victims

Employers must prioritize the protection of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. That may mean the following:

  • Preventing perpetrators from working close to victims, even if that means changing the perpetrator’s team or schedule
  • Providing higher levels of oversight for employees accused of sexual harassment
  • Ensuring that the victim does not face retaliation for reporting harassment in the workplace

Sexual Harassment Prevention FAQs

What Is Considered Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment encompasses any sexually related behaviors that are uncomfortable and unwanted. That includes unwanted physical contact and comments about gender, sexuality, and physical attributes, among other things. 

What Are Common Examples of Harassment?

Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace or at school include:

Why Is Sexual Harassment Prevention Important?

Preventing sexual harassment is critical for several reasons, including:

  • It raises awareness of potentially uncomfortable or dangerous behaviors within the organization.
  • It helps create a more comfortable work environment for everyone in the workplace.
  • It empowers victims to speak up about harassment or potential harassment.
  • It improves employee morale and focus.

Furthermore, there are legal consequences for allowing sexual harassment to continue in the workplace. 

What To Do When You or a Loved One Is Sexually Harassed

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