Is your workplace full of Harvey Weinstein’s and what can you do about it?
A recent BBC survey of 6000 men and women found that two in five women in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work and only a quarter of them reported it. Among men, one in five (18%) said they have been harassed at work.
With the #metoo social media campaign, many more are feeling confident in speaking out. So is your workplace at risk and what can you do about it?
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination and is covered under the Equality Act 2010.
The behaviour needs to be of a sexual nature and;
- violate your dignity;
- make you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated;
- create a hostile or offensive environment.
It could be sexual comments or jokes; physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, showing pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature or sending emails and texts with a sexual content. Victims and perpetrators can be men or women.
How can you prevent sexual harassment occurring in your business?
An employer has a duty of care to protect staff from unlawful discrimination in whatever form it may be. Whilst you cannot control all of your employee interactions there are practical steps that you can follow to minimise the chance of it happening and, in the circumstance that it does, handle it lawfully and appropriately:
- Have a written Equality and Diversity Policy, Harassment Policy and Grievance procedures and ensure that these are issued to all employees.
- Create a culture of respect and dignity and make it clear that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Be consistent in your approach to dealing with any issues that arise at any point.
- Show good leadership. This is massively important. Whether you are the CEO or a Line Manager, if you exhibit the behaviours of good leadership then this will encourage your team to not only behave appropriately but also feel as though inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Get some advice if you are not sure how to handle the situation. Failure to handle the situation correctly could result in a discrimination claim, as well as a claim for Constructive Unfair Dismissal, with the potential to cost your business thousands of pounds.
- Train your staff and managers. Training your staff on Equality and Diversity is the best evidence of your attempts to take preventative action and can form part of a defence to a discrimination claim against your business.
Bhayani HR & Employment Law are experts in discrimination law and can provide your business with comprehensive policies, easy to understand advice and practical training and support.
We offer bespoke training packages on Equality and Diversity. We will agree a fixed cost with you and can provide a no obligation quote.