Workplace sexual harassment has been banned for decades by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. But #MeToo brought the problem to the fore, forcing a major cultural shift in attitudes. Employees no longer hesitate bringing forward a complaint and employers are scrambling to try to keep HR procedures current as well as ensuring that people at all levels in a company know what behavior will not be tolerated.
It’s not just high-profile entertainment industry figures and politicians being brought to account. We’ve heard of smaller technology companies, healthcare providers and manufacturers that are contending with a raft of allegations, mostly from women but also from men. Even large law firms – which you’d think would know better – are settling with more junior attorneys and support staff who have been victimized by sexual harassment.
There is a way to try warding off the problem before it starts. Organizations of all sizes in both the private and public sectors will benefit by providing workshops on what constitutes sexual harassment, how to prevent it from happening, and what to do if someone believes they’re a victim of it. All employees from C-suite executives to entry-level assistants should be schooled in what constitutes harassment, and supervisors taught what to do if an employee reports an incident.