What Businesses Can Do to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In a post #MeToo world, sexual harassment has taken the forefront in regards to issues that can arise in the workplace. Having employment practices liability insurance is the bare minimum you can do to help combat this problem. But in this age, more steps need to be taken.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found  that charges alleging sexual assault have increased 13.6 percent since 2017, recovering $70 million for victims through strict enforcement and litigation. While the government is working to combat sexual harassment, the impact it has already had is shocking.

An online survey done by nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have been a target of sexual harassment at some point in their lifetime. It is an issue that can affect anyone, anywhere, and it is crucial that businesses make an effort to create a positive workplace culture to curb sexual harassment in the workplace. 

No one wants a negative work culture. That kind of problem at best causes people to be unhappy or leave the company, and at worst can lead to damaging EPLI claims and lawsuits. It brings a negative energy and lack of productivity to the workplace that becomes difficult to get rid of.

Enforce Standard Procedures

A good training session leads to positive onboarding, and your training session should include a section about workplace harassment. For some states, it’s required by law that you discuss sexual harassment with your employees. It’s something that’s zero tolerance and should be represented as such, according to Nolo.

Training videos with handbooks that are read and signed are general ways to ensure you’re touching base on the topic. Don’t just train lower-level employees though. Supervisors and managers should be briefed every year or so. Keep an eye on everyone and when a complaint is filed, take it seriously. This kind of thing makes a difference when it comes down to employment practices liability suits.

One common mistake that companies make is stating in their handbooks and policies that harassment will not be tolerated, and then failing to follow through on these threats of enforcement. If the manager can’t enforce their rules, sexual harassment is going to happen. Forbes recommends that businesses make it known early on that if there’s even one instance of harassment, the employee will be gone instantly.

Involve Upper Management

It has been found that when the top of the company gets involved with the sexual harassment discussion, more people tend to take it seriously. It’s not about the supervisors and managers. It’s about getting the CEO involved. If people know that the big boss isn’t going to tolerate that kind of behavior, it could help with the prevention of sexual harassment. People usually don’t want to lose their jobs. If they feel like they can over this problem, they might not do it at all.

Provide Safe Reporting Mechanisms

The last thing that can be done is to make sure that employees can safely report on sexual harassment in a timely manner. In many cases, victims of workplace harassment (sexual or otherwise) do not report their treatment due to a fear of retaliation. A safe, anonymous reporting mechanism will allow them to safely communicate their concerns to management. Once these mechanisms are in place, they should be responded to quickly. 

About World Wide Specialty Programs

For the last 50 years, World Wide Specialty Programs has dedicated itself to providing the optimal products and solutions for the staffing industry. As the only insurance firm to be an ASA commercial liability partner, we are committed to that partnership and committed to using our knowledge of the industry to provide staffing firms with the best possible coverage. For more information about Staffing Professional Liability Insurance or any other coverage, we have available to protect your staffing business, give us a call at (800) 245-9653 to speak with one of our representatives.