According to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), only 6% to 13% of individuals who experienced workplace harassment actually filed a formal complaint in previous years. But these numbers are sure to grow in the coming years due to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Unfortunately, in the wake of these movements, some employers may start to panic or grow weary, always fearing lawsuits or workplace injustices, etc. But here are a few ways that employers can remain responsible yet positive moving forward.
Conduct a Climate Survey
Instead of assuming what’s causing harassment in the workplace, where it’s occurring, and how often, conduct a climate survey. Ask employees for their input so you can determine what needs to be addressed and how. And conduct surveys to get a real feel for where the gaps in your harassment policies and company culture exist and how you can work to fill those gaps.
Endorse Ideas of Zero Tolerance Publicly
Make it clear to every single employee, regardless of her or his role or position, that harassment is not acceptable and that it will have strict consequences. And make it clear that even insinuations and conduct that can be considered borderline will be taken seriously and investigated, every single time.
Encourage Management to Commit to an Inclusive Culture
If you want to develop a positive and inclusive culture across your organization, it starts with your leadership and management teams. Encourage them to commit to detecting harassment and reporting it. And ensure they know and understand all the ways they can prevent themselves from harassing others or allowing such behavior to exist in their teams so that everyone feels safe while at work.
Develop a Comprehensive Action Plan, and Share It and Enforce It
Make sure your policies and programs to detect, prevent, and eradicate harassment are comprehensive and include all groups and genders that are liable to be harassed. For instance, members of the LGBT community and men can still be harassed. And make it clear to every single employee what actions you will take when a report of harassment surfaces and is being considered and how your harassment policies will be enforced. Don’t leave anything up in the air or at the whims of complete discretionary judgment.
Foster an Education and Prevention Strategy
Offer harassment education programs that are continually updated and administered so everyone across your organization is always on the same page about what behaviors should be considered harassment. Have open dialogues and encourage support so employees don’t feel singled out or isolated. And share ideas and initiatives that will help prevent harassment, such as a more inclusive company culture with more diverse teams and leaders.
To keep your organization and its employees positive and focused during the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, consider the tips listed above.