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2017: The year perception changed about sexual harassment

As the year draws to a close, it’s a great time to take stock of progress since last year and set out a plan for the year ahead.

This year has seen some massive changes, especially around the perception of sexual harassment, after Harvey Weinstein was accused and then a flurry of Hollywood greats exposed and brought down by their inappropriate behaviour.

Kevin Spacey has been dropped from Netflix’s House of Cards after a string of allegations and more people are reporting allegations at workplaces across the world.

Time even showcased as it’s Person of the Year, the ‘silence breakers’ – a group of women who stood up and said no to harassment. Among the list included Taylor Swift was sued by a male radio presenter who was fired for groping her. She countersued and won a symbolic one dollar pay-out.

The prevalence of sexual harassment in the media this year has meant that more people are now reporting it. That not only helps for a more productive workplace but also means action must be taken or a costly claim may be in the works!

What does sexual harassment look like?

Sexual harassment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Sexual comments or jokes,
  • Unwelcome sexual advances,
  • Unwanted touching,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature,
  • Sending emails with sexual content.

How big a problem is it?

In a survey, more than half (52%) of women, and 63% of young women said they had experienced sexual harassment. Of these women, 79% didn’t report it to their employer.

Who can be sexually harassed?

Anybody. Women, men, straight, LGBTI+.

Anybody can be the victim of sexual harassment and anybody can be the perpetrator.

As a manager, how should I handle a complaint of sexual harassment?

You must take it very seriously. Your company will have a policy for handling grievances, and you should follow this. It is a fundamental employment right that no-one should suffer sexual harassment. If it occurs, and you do not handle it appropriately, your company will be exposed to the risk of financial and reputational damage, alongside the suffering of the victim.

For help and advice on handling a sexual harassment grievance appropriately, or improving workplace culture to minimise the risk of sexual harassment occurring, call The HR Dept.