This week is #NoMore (March 4-10). Take the pledge and make a stand here.
Likely you've heard of #MeToo where people are opening up about sexual abuse they've endured, most recently actor Brendan Fraser. A majority of it happens from someone the victim knew, and some of it comes from the workplace. Despite people coming forward (and the guilty getting fired), 91% of companies surveyed stated they were not going to update their sexual harassment policy or they did not even have one in place.
In another study, over 1,000 employees were surveyed. 9 out of 10 people agree that sexual harassment includes inappropriate touching, telling sexual stories or jokes, or sharing pictures of a sexual nature. They also agreed that it includes discussing a coworker's sex life. 8 out of 10 people agreed that calling a woman by something other than her name -- such as sweetie or babe -- is also sexual harassment.
While the poll included questions on men complimenting women and women complimenting men (the split being 50/50 on whether or not it's okay) there were some things missing from the poll that we would like to address.
1. LGB. Nearly every training video we previewed showed a man hitting on a woman and discussing how inappropriate it was. These videos did nothing to address men sexually harassing other men, women to women, women to men, or nonbinary. Considering it's 2018, these need to be addressed and policies need to be put in place.
2. The T in LGBT. At a prior employer, a coworker came to me in tears. She had been transitioning, had only ever presented herself as female, but a manager found her medication and began harassing her, including deliberately saying "he" and threatening to rape her to show her "what it's really like to be a woman." When I brought it to the company's attention, they didn't fire or even reprimand him; they relocated him to their sister company around the corner. He was still able to come to her area and harass her. She ended up quitting out of fear. Whether you are pro- or anti- LGBT, this is unacceptable behavior and should have been addressed appropriately. The company had nothing in place to protect anyone transgender or on how to handle it.
3. Social media. Many companies are lacking a social media policy, but you need to have one, and it needs to include sexual harassment. Photoshopping a coworker, tagging them in pictures of a sexual nature, and even sharing certain pictures should be included. Be sure to draw the line on what is acceptable on their personal profiles, what isn't acceptable as a representative of the company, and how to handle two employees in a relationship.
4. Consequences for lying. Roughly 4% of reported cases turn out to be false, yet 54% of people actually harassed hesitate to report because they fear they will not be believed. Employees need to feel safe and that they are able to come forward with an issue, and anyone caught lying needs to be dealt with severely.
5. Alterations to severance packages. As big names makes news, what isn't making news is that these names may be leaving their companies, but they are receiving millions of dollars in severance packages. Sometimes, it's the victim receiving the severance pay in agreement to keep the issue out of court. Take a look at your severance policy and ensure that it includes a clause stipulating reasons they may not be entitled to it.
What does your sexual harassment policy look like? When was it last updated? Do you even have one? It's 2018; let's have policies that reflect that.