Why is sexual harassment still a major issue in the workplace?

6th November 2017

Michael Howard, Chartered FCIPD and lead consultant at Marshalls, looks at why sexual harassment and bullying still a major issue in workplaces across the world.

The headlines around recent cases of sexual harassment in the workplace have been prevalent and continue to be so.

According to The Guardian, more than 50 women have made allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer, and the number continues to grow each day.

The BBC reports that a growing number of British MPs are being investigated over allegations about their past conduct towards women. One cabinet minister, Sir Michael Fallon, has already resigned and Labour has suspended two MPs and is separately investigating an ex-official’ s allegation of rape.

The mainstream press have published an increasing number of items and social media campaigns such as #MeToo, demonstrate that there remains work for organisations to undertake in this area.

The ripples of the #MeToo movement have reached India, where one law student has published a list on Facebook accusing more than 50 Indian professors of sexual harassment.

Despite explicit legislation with regard to sexual harassment and bullying we are becoming increasingly aware of unacceptable behaviours being exhibited by people in positions of power and responsibility.

As David Marshall, managing director of Marshall E-Learning says:

‘Recent events have demonstrated that even seven years after the Equality Act individuals are still exhibiting behaviours that harass, bullying and demean people related to their sex. It shows that we can never accept that everything is ok and that people understand what is or isn’t acceptable. Sexual harassment and bullying does not only impact on employees but, if made public, can have impacts on organisational reputation.’

How can elearning and training help to reduce sexual harassment as an issue in the workplace?

How training interventions help reduce sexual harassment

In order to reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment and bullying issues taking place at your workplace, it is important that organisations do not lose sight of the importance of revisiting sexual harassment and bullying training.

Training helps with the reinforcement of the expectations placed upon employees not to exhibit unacceptable behaviours, whilst understanding the impact of their behaviour on others.

Here are a few key points to remember when your company undertakes harassment and bullying training:

  1. Create a safe environment for whistleblowers: An important aspect of the recent revelations about sexual harassment and bullying is that the people on the receiving end of these unacceptable behaviours did not feel empowered to report them or if they did there were ineffectual responses. Organisations can never be inclusive if individuals feel they have to accept harassment or bullying or they do not feel they can report such behaviours.
  2. Create clear guidelines for reporting: Whilst proactive training and learning is a key element this must be provided alongside effective reporting mechanisms when things do go awry.
  3. Embed intervention in company culture: Providing effective training is a key element in proactive intervention but this must be embedded in the culture and aligned with processes to provide redress when incidents occur.
  4. Build an inclusive culture: Creating a working culture that is inclusive by setting out a clear understanding of what are acceptable behaviours and interrelationships supports a better work environment for everyone.

Marshall E-Learning’s Bullying and Harassment e-learning course looks at an increasingly serious workplace issue from a staff and management perspective. The main course is aimed at staff and a supplementary course for managers, with both courses looking at recognising bullying and harassment in the workplace, the difference between fair management and bullying, the effects of bullying or harassment on the individual, and your role in helping to reduce bullying and harassment.

For those interested in finding out more about the Bullying and Harassment e-learning course or to commission the course for your organisation, please contact David Marshall on 0845 123 3909 or contactus@marshallacm.co.uk.

 

Image credit: Commscope / Flickr

 

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