No matter a person’s gender, they deserve to feel safe in the workplace. A healthy work environment depends on the employer’s ability to put in place policies and training to ensure all employees feel safe. Sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination leave a person feeling humiliated and intimidated. This makes harassment training more important than ever.
Most people know that sensual advances such as unwelcome touch and requests serious negative toll for inappropriate favors are unacceptable in the workplace. There is far more to harassment training than learning not to be overtly crude. It’s important to ensure all employees are educated and understand how their actions affect others and how they can protect themselves.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Department of Workforce Development defines sexual harassment as “Unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other sexual verbal and physical conduct.” Especially when:
- An individual’s employment is conditional on acquiescing to the advances.
- Employment decisions are made based on the person’s acceptance or refusal of the advances.
- The conduct is intentionally or unintentionally creating a hostile environment and interfering with work performance.
Learn more about the legal definition of sexual harassment.
This kind of discrimination is not just a one size fits all list of actions. The actions can be subtle or blatant, intentional or ignorant. It can occur:
- Between same or opposite genders
- Between peers or a subordinate and superior
- In a single incident or repeated incidents over time
- As an attempt to coerce an individual into an unwanted physical encounter or change a person’s behavior and performance at work.
- Physical Contact without consent like touching and grabbing
- Overtly or subtly sexual comments
- Requesting sex and favors of an intimate nature
- Displaying offensive material
- Suggestive body movements and gestures
- Inappropriate jokes
- Inquiring about a person’s sex life
- Indecent exposure
- Assault of a sexual nature
The Impact of Sexual Harassment
Such an intimate form of workplace harassment takes a serious negative toll on the victims. It not only causes mental health issues but physical ones as well. Victims may experience:
- Anxiety and depression
- PTSD symptoms
- Social withdrawal
- Dropping work performance
- Physical stress reactions such as chronic muscle and headaches
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem
What is Sexual Harassment Training?
With sexual harassment having such serious repercussions in the workplace, it is essential to educate employees about what conduct is unacceptable. It also encourages them to report such behavior and what their rights are when it comes to filing a complaint.
The training should make all levels of the workplace more aware of, and sensitive to, the issue, especially those in positions of authority. They should be trained on how to process complaints and how to intervene should the need arise. The training should involve behavioral expectations and be very clear on company policy regarding the matter. Nothing should be left in question, creating a zero-tolerance environment for such behavior.
While there are no specific times that training should be conducted, many states require regular updates in training and initial harassment prevention training when a new employee is hired. Some states, like California, require training every six months, while states like New York only require it once a year. New York is a unique situation where some of the cities within the state have even more stringent requirements than the state regulations. Visit https://www.traliant.com/new-york-sexual-harassment-training/ to learn more about New York’s harassment training. It is essential for employers to stay up to date on new rules and regulations and adopt them into their policies for each training session.
Why is Sexual Harassment Training Required?
Sexual harassment training is an essential part of preventing inappropriate behavior in the workplace. It serves several purposes that protect both the employees and the company.
- Reduces liability
- Businesses are tasked with the responsibility of raising awareness for, and sensitivity to, inappropriate actions. Legal mandates have been created, punishing companies that fail to do so with fines and penalties. Licenses and registrations are in jeopardy for those companies that do not comply. Following the mandates reduces the chance of legal action being taken against a company.
- Keeps all workers safe
- Both experiencing and witnessing harassment leads to a toxic work environment, breeding depression, anxiety, and severe health issues. This impairs the ability to function properly in the workplace and severely impacts productivity. Training helps people feel safe in their environment and empowers them to take action if necessary.
- Creates rights awareness
- Training is mostly meant to prevent inappropriate actions and reeducate individuals in proper workplace behavior. Effective training, though, teaches people what their legal rights are. If they are accused of offenses or need to file a complaint, employees need to know what rights they have and what actions to take.
- Regular training makes it very clear your company has zero-tolerance for such behavior. Send the message to all levels of the organization, that your company stands against such actions and will do what it takes to equally protect employees.