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How to handle sexual harassment in the workplace

Thursday, 28 March 2019

We’ve all heard of sexual harassment, but do we really know what it means?

The dictionary Definition states that sexual harassment is “the unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, degrading hostile, humiliating or offensive environment for that person”
A 2017 survey revealed some immensely shocking statistics surrounding sexual harassment at work. 53% of women and 20% of men felt they had experienced the trauma either at work or in a place of study. With 20% of women stating the person subduing them to this was their manager or someone in a position of authority and 10% having left an organisation due to the harassment.

What is sexual harassment?

Although shocking to some, sexual harassment is NOT just physical and can be carried out multiple times in the work place without people even noticing.

Inappropriate comments, images, emails or jokes are all examples of sexual harassment and can occur across multiple different platforms including work meetings, social events, interviews or even just during the usual 9-5.

Who does it affect?

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age or job role and if it is being experienced by anyone then it should be reported immediately to either line managers, a trade union or a member of HR.

Harassment at work has been proven to cause both mental and physical health problems including anxiety, PTSD, reduced confidence and it can even cause victims work attendance to significantly decrease due to them avoiding work in order to avoid being harassed and treated inappropriately.

Happening within your organisation?

If you are an employer, you have the responsibility to protect your staff from experiencing sexual harassment. This can be done by having clear set rules in place of what is deemed to be unacceptable and inappropriate.

Line managers should also be sufficiently trained at how to handle a sexual harassment report and a clear procedure should be in place of steps to follow after the initial report. And remember, confidentiality is key! Sexual harassment is a very sensitive subject, specifically for the victim who just wants to feel comfortable at work.

If you feel you are being sexually harassed it is important you report this to someone in a position of authority in your place of work. For support contact Samaritans for free on 116 123 or get in touch via their website www.samaritans.org. 

STAND UP TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT #MeToo
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