Sexual harassment in the workplace is an ever-present problem that continues to plague men and women (though mostly women) to this day — and it happens far more often than you think. Even as big-name stars and TV personalities get called out for this abhorrent behavior, there hasn’t been a clean-cut solution to the problem. But it’s obvious that the first step to preventing workplace sexual harassment is to educate employees about the behavior through comprehensive sexual harassment training.
First and foremost, however, let’s define sexual harassment itself.
Sexual harassment is the harassment of one individual by another individual. The harasser and victim can be male or female. The behavior consists of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, offensive remarks about sex in general, lewd jokes and gestures, and physical harassment of a sexual nature. This just not need to be between supervisor or manager and a lower-ranking member of the company. It can happen between equal-level colleagues as well.
Article VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 deems sexual harassment illegal, but people across the world get away with this offensive conduct all the time. This is why sexual harassment training is vital in the workplace — to combat this behavior from the get-go.
The goal of sexual harassment training is to build a happier, healthier workplace environment for all parties by eliminating inappropriate behavior.
To do this, companies often times require new hires to sit through a seminar or complete an online quiz where they are given a brief overview of what sexual harassment is, what behaviors make up sexual harassment, and what to do if faced with sexual harassment. Often times, however, this type of basic training just isn’t enough.
Sexual workplace harassment can be a tricky claim to make, and the signs and behaviors aren’t always clear. There needs to be a comprehensive prevention plan in place that all employers provide to their employees in order to clear up any misunderstandings or gray areas.
This comprehensive training program should outline the laws surrounding workplace harassment, outline the company sexual harassment policy, get into detail about sexual misconduct and pinpoint specific behaviors, and show victims how to make a sexual harassment complaint and who they can turn to like human resources.
To effectively abolish this behavior, the employer should be enacting quarterly web-based training or seminars to continue to drive these points home. There should be a training requirement not just for new employees, but for all employees to reach yearly -- this could mean logging hours in an e-learning program, watching a sexual harassment training video, and having in-depth discussion with managers, supervisors, and peers.
Eliminating this unlawful and offensive behavior isn’t an easy task, but with sexual harassment being the biggest complaint waged by employees, it’s important that companies start taking it more seriously. Discrimination and harassment are detrimental forces to individual work, and sexual harassment prevention programs are the best way to combat the behavior, even if that just means giving people more education on the topic and making it more clear to them what unlawful harassment entails so a sexual harassment claim can be made.
Whether it's quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination, employers needs to start doing a better job at getting involved, or at the very least, starting the conversation. And sexual harassment prevention training is a good place to start.