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Will the “Me Too” Movement Tighten the Belt on Sexual Harassment at Work?

Sexual harassment or sexual assault can happen to anyone at anytime, anywhere: it does not discriminate. Whether you are working in fast foods, sports, a medical practice, executive office, modeling, acting, at church, a police station … it can happen anywhere, and it's been happening for as long as humans have been on this planet. To say it's only human nature would not be true—there are simply some people in this world who enjoy doing bad things and getting away with them. Hopefully, those days are going to be a thing of the past within our lifetime.

Although the problem is difficult to manage in an unstable environment, the workplace offers some stability to this problem because it has rules that must be obeyed, or you suffer the consequences. This is also true in general society, as a rule, but we all know how that goes. As an employer in today's world, it is more important than ever to have an employee handbook that clearly defines what is and what is not tolerated at work, and what actions will be taken for each infraction. It is up to the employer to provide rules and to also provide training on the subject. This is generally handled by Human Resources where managers and professionals are up-to-date on local state and federal laws regarding all work-related issues.

While on the job training ensures that employees must acknowledge they have watched a video or attended classes on the subject of sexual harassment, a good HR department should also allow other means of support or counseling and protection for whistle blowers at work. It is hard to believe that nearly all sexual harassment cases at work will go unreported due to fear, shame or embarrassment. The first line of defense is to simply speak up, but most women, or men, won't. An HR department is open to any and all complaints from employees and should encourage employees to speak up. Just think of how this would dramatically cut down on turnover at work.

The number one reason for not reporting an incident at work is fear of retribution. How do you get your employees to communicate with you? Make sure your HR department is one hundred percent accessible to listening to employees' complaints while keeping them anonymous (if that is what they want).Also, there is currently an AI app available called "Talk to Spot" that works as a third-party entity where employees can report incidents directly to HR using their name or communicating with them anonymously (however, in most cases it eventually has to be revealed to complete an investigation. An employee can't be interviewed and/or punished for an action that they don't have the right to defend themselves against.) The app also keeps a record of all communication regarding the incident. It is a relatively new app and can become invaluable to any HR department or company.

The Human Resource department's job is not only to protect the company, but it's there to protect employee rights as well. Having an open-door policy where employees feel safe enough to report sexual harassment or assault is vital to a successful company. If your company does not have an HR department, Stellaris Group is a full-service Human Resources company in Marietta, Georgia. Their team of HR consultants is more than capable of helping you to create the right culture by providing the proper training and guidance to keep your workplace a happy, safe and successful one. 

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