Step 1: Review Company Culture
Employers should reflect on their workplace culture and the behaviour of workers, senior leaders and management.
Overt forms of sexual harassment are often easily identifiable, but more subtle sexual harassment, such as crude language or sexist remarks, often go unnoticed. Employers should assess whether there is any aspect of their current culture that could be subject to the requirements of the sexual harassment framework.
One way to assist in assessing workplace culture is asking workers to participate in an anonymous survey.
Step 2: Review Policies Annually
Best practice is for employers to review policies annually. Policies should be reviewed for compliance with the law and with the following questions in mind:
- Are senior leaders, managers and workers implementing and/or following the policies?
- Are policies effective in preventing harassment and discrimination?
- Is there anything that needs to change?
Step 3: Regular Targeted Training
Employers should run regular training sessions that are tailored to the workplace and the level of the worker receiving the training. Training should be provided to workers at all levels and in a form that all workers can understand.
Employers should also consider the mode of training – often face-to-face training is the most effective as employers can ensure that the audience is engaged and understands the content.
Step 4: Assess risks of Harassment and Discrimination
Employers and managers should also conduct assessments for the risk of harassment and discrimination occurring in the workplace and include consideration of:
- How workers interact with each other.
- How managers and workers interact with each other.
- Whether workers interact with customers, clients, suppliers outside the company’s control.
- Whether workers are comfortable raising issues and concerns with management.
Step 5: Implement Control Measures to address risks of Harassment and Discrimination
Employers should implement control measures to address any risks of harassment and discrimination identified in step 4. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to implementing control measures. Control measures need to be fit for their company, the circumstances and the workers involved.
Step 6: Review the effectiveness of Control Measures implemented
Finally, employers should review and assess the effectiveness of any control measure implemented in step 5.
The AHRC and Respect@Work Council have created the Respect@Work website to provide resources for employers and employees.
Akyra’s Key Takeaways
- Prevention and Proactivity: Employers should adopt a proactive approach to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Rather than just responding to complaints, they should focus on fostering a workplace culture built on respect and take action to prevent harassment and discrimination.
- Annual Policy Review: Employers should review their policies annually to ensure compliance with the law and their effectiveness in preventing harassment and discrimination. This includes assessing whether policies are being implemented and followed by senior leaders, managers, and workers.
- Targeted Training and Assessments: Regular training sessions tailored to the workplace and worker levels should be conducted to raise awareness and understanding of sexual harassment issues. Additionally, employers should assess the risks of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, considering how workers interact with each other, with managers, and with external parties, as well as whether there are barriers to reporting issues.
By following these steps, employers can create a safer and more respectful work environment and reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment claims.
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Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.