#MeToo Movement has taken the world by storm and many hidden facts are coming out of the closet. Be it in fashion and movie industry, be it in politics, jobs or workplaces, at public spaces or even at homes, there is someone or the other getting affected.
Sexual harassment at the workplaces is one of the most common problems faced by employees, more so by women. We do have the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act on place since 2013 and many organizations have strictly followed it, having a separate department for handling such issues. But, rather than waiting for something mishap to happen and then complaining about it, it is better to prevent it at the onset. For sexual harassment, or say, any uncomfortable situations that you face at your offices, there is always some way or the other to avoid it.
How can employees avoid sexual harassment at the workplace?
By the time you complete your education and join a company, you are almost plus 21 years of age, which means, by this time you are matured enough to understand good or bad behaviour on the part of anyone in your office. So, there are many ways you can avoid or prevent it. If you get to do something which you are not comfortable with, either in lure of a job promotion or better growth, then it is you who is actually to be blamed because it is you who is giving him or her a chance. All of a sudden, you cannot blame someone and get into #MeToo to spoil the reputation of the other person. Anything mutual consent is not wrong, anything forcibly done is wrong. If needed, you should be bold enough to stop it there and then itself.
Say “NO”…..firmly and loudly. A “NO” means “NO”…
A person is staring at you, complementing you unnecessarily, passing on lewd comments, sending you vulgar pics and videos, holding you from behind without your knowledge, patting you on your back, asking you to accompany for a project work outside of your location….these are all some situations of sexual harassment that a woman employee can face at her office.
What should you do under such circumstances?
There is the sexual harassment complaint cell in your office. Give a written complaint against that person as soon as you get the hint, it’s no point prolonging it further and be a part of #MeToo later on. By that time, it is too late and the wrong has already been done. Don’t fall for prey and be a victim. Rather be strong enough to fight against it.
It’s good to be ambitious in life but for the sake of your ambitions in life, it is no point to hurt your self-respect or remain silent. Speak up!!
Time for HR Department to Implement More Policies to Avoid #MeToo
The HR department can play a pivotal role in this. It’s time to change certain HR policies or implement new policies to avoid creating #MeToo campaign by any employees in the organization.
What can HR do?
Making strong and more effective anti-harassment and retaliation policies is the urgent need of the HR Department of any organizations. HR department should consider few facts: Does the harassment policy covers fully all the behaviours that constitute sexual harassment? Does the department have several reporting mechanisms? Is there any proper investigation procedure in place? And so on…
The preventive steps…
- First of all, give proper training to the employees to know exactly what cases can be considered as sexual harassment cases. Organizations should clearly state what are and what are not sexual harassment and have to make sure that the information is given to employees regarding the same.
- Secondly, policies and training should be updated so that the emphasis is more on gender equality, sexual orientation, and emphasizing focusing gender neutrality as to who may face sexual harassment. #MeToo is not only for women, it is for men too. So, both the versions should be heard and given importance.
- Report incidents then and there itself is a must instead of delaying it. HR should come up with a policy of reporting such matters on an immediate basis.
- Policies should be implemented to include “bystander empowerment” to intervene as and when something happens. In other words, a bystander can either intervene to protect the victim or act as a witness when the need arises and his or her version is equally important.
- The HR department should ensure that all harassment complaints are heard and proper steps are taken up to ensure justice, irrespective of who the complaint is from and for whom.
- More reporting options should be made available to the employees. As of now, complaints are made only to the human resources or the supervisors. At times, the victim is uncomfortable to report it. More tech-enabled options such as hotlines, web-platforms should be made available so that companies and their branch offices in various locations stay vigilant and take a corrective approach to prevent such cases.
- Usually, sexual harassment cases are investigated internally through HR, who may not be professionally equipped or experts in carrying out investigations. Thus, the HR professionals should be provided with proper investigation training so that they can carry out sexual harassment investigations in a professional manner. HR seniors should get in touch with external professionals, law specialists, or internal counsel for this.
It’s the HR which can bring about the real change in preventing #MeToo or Sexual Harassment at the work place. It’s time for the HR department to function, without being at the beck and call of the organization’s promoters and owners. HR needs to be empowered to create or update systems and policies so as to avoid #MeToo later on.
GharSeNaukri.com as a hr platform takes the initiative to emphasize real behavioural and cultural change campaigns at workplaces…