How HR Professionals Can Navigate #MeToo Movement
As highlighted by the #MeToo Movement, sexual harassment cuts across all professional sectors. A lot of high-profile global companies have landed at the centre of some of the infamous sexual harassment cases. The #MeToo Movement has not only offered the survivors a platform to speak their truth, but it has brought out in the open discussions about workplace sexual harassment.
The key question that HR professionals are asking is how does one deal with complaints raised by employees on social media platforms, in case an official report has not been filed by them. The simple answer to this is that when your internal processes are robust, and the victims feel assured that justice will be meted out to them without any personal prejudice, they won’t feel the need to turn to social media.
There are several ways in which HR professionals can navigate this delicate space of the #MeToo Movement. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Step Out Of Your Own Bias
According to statistics received, 38 per cent of women experienced sexual harassment at the workplace, and 16 per cent of such claims have come from men. So, the first thing that you, as HR professionals, need to do is to step out of your own bias and challenge your thinking. Conduct an audit of your working environment by closely observing employees as they move through spaces. Think about the probable actions that may be occurring in and around you. Focus on evaluating equality with a bigger lens and imagine your workplace optics from every possible perspective.
Comprehend The Subject Of Sexual Harassment In Detail
It is not just enough for HR managers to draft effective sexual harassment policies. The hiring managers need to be in a position to speak to employees in an understanding and knowledgeable manner. To achieve this, it is important that HR managers strive to comprehend the subject of sexual harassment in detail. It is also important that hiring managers continuously upgrade their knowledge on the issue and be abreast with the latest policies and evolving attitudes about this sensitive subject.
When it comes to changing cultural attitudes about sexual harassment, HR managers are on the front lines of the “#Me Too Movement”. It is very crucial for hiring managers to carefully observe and learn critical points from the movement to effectively deal with sexual harassment issues in the workplace.
Sexual Harassment Can Become A PR Nightmare
The first thing that hiring managers need to understand is that sexual harassment issues at the workplace can no longer be avoided nor taken lightly. With the presence of social media and a society that no longer hesitates to take stern action against sexual offenders, the HR managers need to pull up their socks. If they fail to take timely action, in no time can a sexual harassment incident at their company can become a public relations (PR) nightmare. Hiring managers will have a tough time recruiting quality employees, as the company’s reputation takes a significant hit with such incidents. Hence it is pertinent that HR managers implement policies to effectively deal with such harassment issues at the workplace.
The Company Needs To have A Sexual Harassment Policy In Place
The next logical thing to do is to take a crack at your organisation’s policies. Figure out when was the last time that the sexual harassment policies at your organisation were updated. Evaluate if these existing policies only prevent sexual misconduct or do they merely avoid legal liability. Based on your findings, update your policy handbook to include prevention. Focus towards actively conducting new training for your HR executives on modernised policies. Be proactive, upgrade your knowledge, and set the right example.
It is the duty of HR managers to ensure that their company has a clear policy about sexual harassment. This policy must be included in the official employee handbook, and the proper procedure needs to be outlined. The policies should also outline the strong repercussions that sexual offenders will face if they engage in such acts. The hiring managers need to ensure that the company policies are not just fair, but they address an issue properly if it occurs.
Lead By Example
While you set out to update the current policies of your organisation, you also need to update the way you handle these reports. As you gear up to take this ahead, make a conscious effort to change the way sexual harassment is treated at your workplace. Avoid turning a blind eye and protecting predators in your workplace, even if it is out of your fear of retaliation.
It is time to lead by example, and that means challenging your HR executive team to take a stand. There are multiple resources available to support employees while handling these kinds of sexual harassment cases. You must take advantage of investigation training, as it will provide your team and you with the necessary insight and tools needed to navigate these types of sensitive cases. There are also national resource centres for your assistance, such as workplacerespond.org that offers training, technical support, and resources to employers navigating violence, sexual harassment, and stalking at the workplace.
Build A Culture Where People Feel Empowered To Speak Out
Last but not least, make this a company-wide effort. HR executives are not superhuman and can’t be in all places at once. This is where accountability and teamwork come into play. According to statistics, only 30 per cent of employees feels comfortable reporting such misconduct at the workplace. The remaining 70 per cent prefer to keep mum!
Thus it is of utmost importance to build a culture at the workplace where every individual feel empowered to speak out and report any such incident. To achieve this, create a support system across the company to ensure that the working environment is a safe one where everyone feels comfortable to speak their minds.
‘#Me Too Movement’ – Key Takeaways For Hiring Managers
With many international and local alternatives, the “#Me Too Movement” is a movement against sexual assault and sexual harassment. This movement spread virally as a hashtag (#) on the social media platform starting in October 2017 in an attempt to bring forth the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, especially at the workplace.
Of late, this movement has created a revolution of sorts and is making waves across the globe. The issue of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace has never been so much at the forefront, as it is now. Thus, hiring managers of all organisations need to take away a couple of key points from this revolutionary movement.
One of the key takeaways from the “#Me Too Movement” for hiring managers is that they need to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. They must never brush off such complaints and listen carefully to the accounts of accusers. Irrespective if the person in question is the accuser’s boss, colleague, or any other HR employee, an HR manager should never tolerate any kind of retaliation against the accuser. Hiring managers have a duty not just towards the higher-ups in the management, but towards all the employees of the company. It is significant that the managers take necessary actions (without any bias) by the HR policies of the company.
Raise The Awareness of Employees
Hiring managers need to organise and encourage employee training and awareness programs about sexual assault. They must also ensure that all the HR executives in the team are appropriately trained to handle sexual harassment cases. Employees are more likely to report such incidents when their awareness level is high. If the employees are educated about the thin line that exists between being friendly and being inappropriate, it will help in answering a lot of questions that employees are likely to have regarding sexual harassment issues.