Organisations cannot be complacent about sexual harassment. According to the Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces Report conducted by The Australian Human Rights Commission, “Workplace sexual harassment is prevalent and pervasive: it occurs in every industry, in every location and at every level, in Australian workplaces. Australians, across the country, are suffering the financial, social, emotional, physical and psychological harm associated with sexual harassment.”
The good news is that there are practical steps that senior managers can take to ensure appropriate control measures are in place to eliminate, or minimise, the risk of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.
So, how can technology help organisations manage this area? And what are the most important markers that make up a successful framework?
Frameworks for preventing workplace sexual harassment
Essentially, employers have legal and ethical responsibilities towards preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. And it must start at the top, allowing senior managers and leaders to take the initiative in addressing these issues.
Who wants to work in an organisation that doesn’t take this seriously, or actively implement strategic steps to prevent and manage sexual harassment?
Worksafe’s Guide for Preventing Workplace Sexual Harassment identifies sexual harassment as a workplace hazard that is known to cause psychological and physical harm.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) says that organisations must take steps to prevent sexual harassment occurring, and to respond if it does.
Their recommended framework is structured around key elements of a strategic plan, and is not just victim-centred and practical, but also adaptable for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. In essence, it is designed to minimise harm to workers in clear and identifiable ways.
Tangible steps in preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace
In response to the report, the AHRC recommends a new framework for workplaces to better prevent and respond to sexual harassment. Here we break down some key points:
Good leadership is critical, and when top-down leadership takes sexual harassment seriously, this can trickle down through the whole organisation and create a specific culture.
Leaders must display strong action to stamp out sexual harassment, whilst cultivating a culture that reinforces this. This can be achieved by building a culture of trust and respect, that actively minimises the risk of sexual harassment occurring. And if it does occur, leaders must ensure it is dealt with in a way that minimises harm to workers.
HR strategies: staff induction, incident reporting, risk assessments
It is vital to ensure there are high-level staff inductions, clear risk reporting avenues, and learnings or assessments. Organisations can use systems and procedures to mitigate risk and build a culture of transparency.
Starting with induction, leaders can ensure everyone is aware of expected behaviour and company culture by implementing comprehensive induction sessions.
When it comes to reporting and assessing, leaders should ensure there is a universally known, easily accessible – and absolutely safe – place to report it.
And once reported, incidents must be acknowledged, assessed, and action taken.
Organisations can then use all this data to see the true scope and nature of the problems that might be present, and find ways to improve.
Support for workers
The AHRC Framework recommends “prioritising worker wellbeing and provision of support to workers, including before they make a report, as well as after they report and during any formal processes.”
This essentially means that adopting a victim-centred approach to the way investigations are conducted when a report is made can minimise unnecessary harm to workers.
Using technology to assist with preventing sexual harassment in the workplace
Rapid Global provide workforce management software to many of the world’s most respected organisations. Our products can actively help in setting up frameworks to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment via induction and ongoing training programmes, incident reporting, and risk management systems.
Contact us at Rapid Global and see how you can integrate technology to help you develop a framework for preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace.