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Do you recognise Harassment?

View profile for Debbie Sansome
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With the #MeToo movement being brought back into the spotlight of late, it is even more important for employers to demonstrate their commitment to preventing unlawful harassment in the workplace.

The #MeToo movement has inspired thousands of men and women to end their silence and speak out about their own experience of unlawful harassment.

It is concerning to consider how many people stayed silent in the face of harassment due to their employer not taking it seriously, believing that their perpetrator would be protected, a fear of victimisation, the perception that the person is just a joker and does it to everyone, or not knowing who to report it to?

Albeit, employees are now protected from harassment under the Equality Act 2010, employers should be taking the responsibility in ensuring that they are putting into practice reasonable steps to prevent harassment.

Essentially, harassment is unwanted conduct related to relevant protected characteristics, which has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment.

How often we hear, I meant it as a joke, or No-one else has an issue with it; which historically has led to issues not being managed, or simply going away.

Why is there a false perception that harassment applies to only a certain group of people.  There is no justification, or defence in relying on the perception that some are easily offended, or simply cannot take a joke – harassment is harassment.

Ask yourself;

  • DO YOU show commitment in creating a work environment free of harassment in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect?
  • DO YOU have zero tolerance towards harassment?
  • DO YOU know that a single incident can be harassment if it is sufficiently serious?
  • DO YOU take complaints seriously?
  • DO YOU show inclusively wherein you adopt the same procedure for both men and women?
  • DO YOU communicate to employees the procedure on how to report harassment?
  • DO YOU address unacceptable behaviour?
  • DO YOU have a Dignity at Work Policy in place and do you regularly review this?
  • DO YOU train your employees on the Policy?
  • DO YOU confirm to your employees how to raise issues in strictest confidence?
  • DO YOU have signed acknowledgement forms from your employees confirming that they have read and understood your Policy?
  • DO YOU apply and implement the Policy appropriately and consistently to ensure a uniform approach?
  • DO YOU know where banter stops and harassment begins?
  • DO YOU know that employers can be held vicariously liable for unlawful harassment in their organisation?

One important question - Are you doing enough in your organisation?

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