Employment solutions expert advises employers on how to keep their workers safe
1 in 3 women have been sexually harassed in the workplace. As the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to rock Hollywood, millions of these women have taken to Twitter to use the hashtag #MeToo and share their own story of trauma.
“Many of the people using the #MeToo hashtag are revealing stories of being sexually harassed in the workplace,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and workplace trends expert. “While we would like to believe that predators like Harvey Weinstein are rare, sexual harassment is actually a common problem that women (and men) in the workplace face.”
So how can employers help to protect their workers?
Here, Wilson reveals these Do’s and Donts:
Do watch your humor: “We have all heard blonde jokes, and perhaps you even know a few blondes who find them funny,” says Wilson. “But that doesn’t matter. These could be construed as misogynist in nature because they are attacking women, so they could land you in hot water.”
Do beware of what you post on Facebook. “We once had a company that needed to terminate an employee because his social media was rife with sexy images. He felt he had the right to post whatever he wanted, but because he was friends with other employees on his page, they said the behavior made them uncomfortable around him. So, save your lust for Kim Kardashian—or don’t friend your coworkers.”
Don’t think you have to be the ‘target’ to speak up. “Even if you are not the one who is being flirted with, you can go to H.R. and complain if the behavior is making you uncomfortable. That is all that is required—that the behavior makes you uneasy as an employee and threatens your feeling of security, whether or not you are in the direct line of attention.”
Do make your dress code policy gender-neutral. “Dress code policies used to advise women to wear skirts or pumps, or men to wear neckties. But, nowadays, it is frowned upon to ask women to dress in feminine ways or to wear makeup. Instead, advise all employees to present a well-groomed appearance, and to wear business-formal or business-casual attire. You can make stipulations such as ‘no revealing clothing,’ but make it across the board—not just for women.”
Don’t forget about LGBTQ rights. “Riffing on Caitlyn Jenner or teasing a coworker for his gender/sexual orientation counts as sexual harassment, even if you think it is all in good fun. This could even include ‘mis-gendering’ someone—such as using the wrong pronoun or name.”
Wilson concludes, “There are many more behaviors which are frowned on in today’s workplace, such as referring to women as ‘gals’ or ‘girls,’ or making personal comment to pregnant/nursing employees. People today want their workplaces to feel safe and welcoming, and they aren’t afraid to take legal action if their rights are stepped on.”