We are so excited to be kicking off this week with our first ever I Am An Ally 30-Day Challenge. And the topic we're starting with is Polices and Procedures. Whether you're dusting off your existing policy or creating a new one, there are certain things to include. How many of these key pieces do you have in your policy?
Opening with a statement of commitment to a harassment-free workplace lets your employees know that you take harassing behavior seriously. It's the first thing they read and it sets the tone of importance for the rest of the document.
Consider outlining and defining both anti-harassment and sexual harassment in your policy. Anti-harassment addresses harassment towards individuals in a protected class such as race, religion, gender expression, sexual orientation, etc. Sexual harassment is any act perceived as having sexual intent that makes an individual uncomfortable.
While not necessarily exhaustive, listing examples of types of harassment can educate employees who may not be familiar with what constitutes sexual harassment. As we mentioned last month, how one person defines harassment may not hold true for another person. Seeing examples brings awareness.
An anti-harassment policy goes beyond the conduct of employees. It should cover every person that has a connection to your organization, i.e. vendors, suppliers, customers, donors, board of director members, and even owners. Clarifying who the audience is in your policy will eliminate reporting confusion. For example, what if an employee experiences harassing behavior from a vendor? The fact that the policy includes vendors in the list helps employees understand that they can report on individuals outside the organization.
Harassment can happen outside the workplace like at a work event, conference, volunteer event, etc. Make sure employees understand that their conduct away from the workplace should adhere to the policy guidelines the same as it does inside the workplace.
Reporting harassment should be encouraged and the details of when, how, and who to report to should be outlined in the policy. Do employees know who to report to in your organization or is there an anonymous reporting platform they can use? Would employees feel confident enough to report, knowing that the organization will believe them and follow up with an investigation?
Investigations & Retailiation
Set expectations that you will take prompt action by doing an investigation and will follow up with appropriate corrective action. State that the company prohibits any employee from retaliating against or intimidating in any way anyone who has raised any concern about, or who is serving as a witness to, sexual harassment or discrimination against another individual.
After reviewing the key pieces mentioned above, take a look at your policy to see what needs to be added or revised. Best practice is to have a clearly written policy in place along with procedures for reporting harassment. To learn more about harassment prevention in the workplace, we are offering an engaging training session entitled, Sexual Harassment Prevention for Leaders and HR Professionals, on November 11th. Registration is open and we would love to have you join us!