How to Recognize Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Supervisor watching colleague

Unwelcome Sexual Behavior from Peers

Over half of women in the workforce report some sort of unwelcome sexual behavior from peers. Is your company responding correctly?

Even better than responding to sexual harassment complaints is being proactive. Recognizing what is or isn’t behavior that needs to be addressed is crucial to preventing painful and costly experiences.

Staying on top of new laws and being compliant with sexual harassment training laws are important for you, your employees, and your company. Here’s a brief guide on how to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace and what you can do about it.

Who is at Risk for Sexual Harassment?

While we brought up a statistic that deals with women’s experiences earlier, sexual harassment isn’t limited to one group. Sexual harassment also isn’t limited to people of the opposite sex.

Anyone can be sexually harassed, regardless of gender or orientation. No one should be ashamed or hesitant to come forward if they’re a victim, even if they feel they don’t fit the “typical” profile.

What Does Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Look Like?

It’s easy to dream up a typical scenario of a boss asking a subordinate to work late and then making unwanted advances. That’s certainly sexual harassment, but it’s not the only form it takes.

It can be a “quid pro quo” situation, where the harasser asks for something in exchange for a favor. Even calling coworkers pet names like “honey” or “babe” can be counted as harassment.

Unwanted physical contact counts, but so does offhanded comments, rumors, and staring at others. Even more extreme cases involve stalking and following the victim to their home.

Where can Sexual Harassment Occur?

Sexual harassment can occur at any work-related setting as long as it involves coworkers or superiors and subordinates. It can happen to employees offsite, including at training sessions, retirement parties, or other work events.

Harassment can follow the victim online. Rumors can spread, images can be sent, and texts and emails can follow a victim at all times, invading all areas of their life.

No matter where it happens, victims deserve to be listened to and understood. If someone in your company finds themselves in this situation, document as much as you can about the incidents.

What Can You do About Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a complex issue but one that should always be addressed head on. What can you do to rectify any incidents or prevent them from happening in the first place?

Make sure your employees are up to date on the latest company manual and policies. Lay out the company’s expectations and guidelines clearly and make it available for anyone that needs a refresher.

Treat those who come forward with respect. Similarly, treat those who are accused fairly and allow the truth to come out, whatever it may be.

Lastly, stay compliant and current with sexual harassment training. Find an online training course to keep you, your employees, and your company safe.

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