Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Is Your Organization Prepared?

There is a lot of buzz lately, mostly coming out of the entertainment industry around sexual harassment.  Yet I am always surprised in talking with people the number of them that don’t fully understand what harassment really is.  Many believe that if the victim has not been physically assaulted then there is no “harassment”.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

What about at your workplace? Do your employees and managers understand what constitutes sexual harassment?  You may be surprised. I know I am whenever I deliver a harassment seminar to a client.  The number of misinformed managers is often distressing.  And that puts your organization at risk. As an employer, you have a responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.  However policies alone can’t stop it. First those organizations must understand just what sexual harassment is.

So, what is sexual harassment?

According to Human Rights in British Columbia, Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It is sexual harassment if someone repeatedly says or does things to you that are insulting and offensive. It can be words or actions that are sex or gender-related.

There are many types of sexual harassment, including:

  • unwanted touching
  • making offensive jokes or remarks about women or men
  • making sexual requests or suggestions
  • staring at or making unwelcome comments about someone’s body
  • showing sexual pictures or images
  • being verbally abusive to someone because of gender

The important lesson here is that harassment may be sex discrimination even if it is not sexual in nature. This can happen when someone harasses you simply because of your gender.

Prepare Your Workplace

Have a clear policy on sexual harassment, including the consequences for non-compliance. Then, train your employees.

Have a process in place for not only reporting complaints, but define the investigation process after you receive a complaint. Train your senior staff on how to manage these sensitive processes.

Create a workplace environment that is free of harassment by holding everyone accountable, even those in power.

Need help? Call Sarkany. We Can Help.


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