Sexual harassment at work: clear procedures for support and accountability

Sexual harassmentEveryday sexism and harassment has drawn increasing media attention in recent times. The existence of legislation protecting against sex-based discrimination in the workplace, set against the backdrop of initiatives such as the #Metoo movement, have brought the topic under the scrutiny of the public’s gaze. Despite these developments reflecting general community expectations, when incidents occur it is often the complainant left dissatisfied with how the situation was handled in their professional environment from the outset.

Employees face increased pressure to translate the legal protections under the Sex Discrimination Act into procedures at a grassroots level, and to know what practical avenues are available to them if they have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Employers must have adequate systems in place that genuinely acknowledge a complainant’s concerns. They should also provide viable steps towards holding perpetrators accountable. After landmark decisions such as the 2014 Richardson v Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd case, the vicarious liability of employers and increased scope for payable damages places even greater emphasis on the need to acknowledge that sexual harassment exists in workplace cultures.

As many of these incidents remain unreported due to the stigma surrounding speaking out and complicit behaviour from fellow colleagues encouraging a ‘culture of silence’, clear boundaries need to be communicated on the line between well-meaning camaraderie and inappropriate advances. Fostering an open discussion and promoting effective internal avenues of redress are the first steps to cultivating a workplace that is safe, inclusive and respectful.

GRC Solutions offers a range of customisable training to ensure that employees are aware of policies in place about what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and how it can be prevented.

To learn more about our Diversity & Equality course and how it could benefit your organisation, contact us today.

Source: The Conversation