How can sexual harassment policies and procedures support the culture of a company? A carefully drafted policy and reporting procedure can mitigate the risk of employment-related litigation over workplace discrimination and harassment.
Most companies have a policy on the books, but employment laws change with new federal or state legislation and court interpretations. Thus, it is important to review these policies and procedures on a routine basis. Then, follow up with training to prevent incidents.
A well-communicated policy and reporting procedure
Sexual harassment has been on the forefront this year and every company needs to have a plan to address this sensitive topic. A 2017 CNBC study found that 19 percent of American employees had experienced sexual harassment at the workplace. Women were more than twice as likely to be affected (27 percent of women compared to 10 percent of men).
Not all of those who experience sexual harassment, however, feel comfortable reporting it. One important part of a customized policy must be an anti-retaliation provision. This can assuage employee fears and lead to internal reports that you can investigate and resolve.
Training formats and options
Communicating the basics of the policy and the reporting procedure should be part of a new-hire training. It is also a good idea to conduct this type of refresher training annually for existing staff at all levels of the organization. Employees may not remember exactly where to find answers in an employment manual and this training can reinforce what it means to be a no-tolerance employer and reporting protocols.
Training should provide informative, industry-specific material that is relatable. Live training may have better engagement, but video recordings can include quiz questions or other strategies that test comprehension.
Any changes or updates to these policies should include customized training that demonstrate your commitment to employees. Revisiting your sexual harassment policy and reporting procedure can also maintain a positive company culture.