Let’s Have a Conversation about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I help women owned businesses get access to capital and opportunities. I’m dismayed about the news reports about people losing their jobs because of sexual harassment and sexual aggression in the workplace. I’m also hopeful in the sense that at least we are having a conversation about this very important topic. For example, “Congress Struggling to Create Zero Tolerance Sexual Harassment Policy” was a topic on All Things Considered on NPR while I was in the car on the way to a Supplier Diversity event.

I spoke to a number of women in business at this event and it surprised me that most small businesses don’t have HR policies.

Too many times, small business owners focus on running or growing the business and not enough focus is given on the operations and the HR considerations. It’s important that as a business owner you have up to date and relevant HR policies and that those policies be really explicit when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Q: Nancy, I don’t have an HR policy in place, what do I do?

A: The good news is that there are plenty of templates you can download from a quick Google search (or your search engine of choice!). And, even better, you can leverage the power of relationships … get in touch with one of us and we’ll gladly introduce you to one of our amazing WBENC Certified WBDC of FLladies who specialize in Human Resources, and if possible in your particular industry or niche.

Q: I already have a policy about sexual harassment policy in place, I’m all set, is that right Nancy?

A: Not necessarily and here is why …

Some considerations about your Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Policy

  • If you have a policy, when was the last time you looked at it?
  • What does your sexual harassment policy state?
  • Does your policy stress that you take very seriously the safety of all of your employees and that you have a safe workplace?
  • What happens if someone feels harassed in the workplace?
  • Is it clear what steps should be taken to report any incidents?

Opening the conversation in the workplace

Take the hour (or so!) that it takes to go over your HR policies with your team. If you’re not doing so, start distributing a copy of the HR Manual to all your new hires and be sure to incorporate a review of all your policies like paid time off, maternity leave, benefits, and regarding performance reviews.

If you haven’t gone over your HR Policy with your employees, do so now!

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

1) An employment decision affecting that individual is made because the individual submitted to or rejected the unwelcome conduct; or 2) The unwelcome conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment.

Certain behaviors, such as conditioning promotions, awards, training or other job benefits upon acceptance of unwelcome actions of a sexual nature, are always wrong.

Resources

Contact our office and we’ll gladly make an introduction to WBDC of FL members who specialize in this area – link.

Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint/Investigation Procedure via Society for Human Resources – link.

Sexual Harassment Policy via US Department of State – link.

Let’s keep the conversation going … Sexual Harassment in the workplace is not and will not be tolerated.

I hope you’ll echo my sentiments that harassment or violence of any kind will not be tolerated in your company and that you believe in respect for all employees. Are you in?

 

 

 

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