Commitment 3 - Support your staff
Create an environment where staff feel comfortable and confident to report sexual harassment or assault that they have experienced at work.
Provide signposting to local services and other HR and Employee Assistance resources if they need further information.
How can we create this environment?
The Equality Act 2010 defines sexual harassment at work as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and hate crimes more generally, are not experienced in the same way as other offences. This is in part because they target identity - that is, who a person is or is perceived to be. This is very personal. It means that victims often blame themselves and remain silent about what happened, whether due to self-blame, fear of being blamed, or disbelieved, or being further victimised.
Workplaces should acknowledge these barriers and help to reduce and remove them with a combination of cultural and practical changes.
- Undertake an anonymous survey of your staff team to get a full view of how safety is experienced across the organisation. Who feels safest and in which roles? When do particular workers feel the least safe and why?
- Send a memo to all staff clearly communicating your policy and reminding them that all reports are confidential and will be taken seriously.
- Call a special meeting with managers to discuss and plan the different ways women’s safety could be made a priority, including supporting the progress and leadership journeys of women in your organisation.
- Address workplace bullying and use administrative measures to vary power dynamics, such as rotating who chairs meetings
- Investigate how skilled your teams feel when it comes to challenging harmful jokes or comments in the workplace, and role-play the best way of doing this to normalise it.
- Publish your Sexual Harassment Policy and Equalities Statement online.
- Invest in Sexual Harassment and Equalities training for the whole team.