How can I ensure my employees will feel confident their case of sexual harassment will be dealt with effectively?
Effective strategies to increase employee confidence in Workplace Sexual Harassment processes require the following:
Managers must respond appropriately to complaints
Managers must respond appropriately to employees who come forward with complaints of WSH. Training for managers should be clear on how they are to respond to a complaint of WSH. Attempts to downplay or ignore the complaint is obviously destructive to the process.
Multiple reporting channels
Having more than one person to report WSH has been shown to increase reporting. Employees may be fearful of approaching their manager or supervisor about a complaint so having multiple reporting channels can ease this concern and encourage more employees to report what they are experiencing.
Timeliness of investigations
The timeliness of investigations is vital to all parties and is seen as an important indicator that the process is fair to the parties.
Application of appropriate sanctions
If the complaint of WSH is founded, it is important that any sanction applied is appropriate for the individual circumstances. Weak sanctions, such as the proverbial “slap on the wrist” deflect organizational responsibility for WSH and indicate a climate of tolerance for sexual harassment.
Use of mediation
The existence of an option for mediation or other informal procedures has been shown to increase employee confidence in the organization’s workplace harassment processes. This is especially the case with people who are less likely to report occurrences of WSH and who are less likely to agree to a formal process for investigation.