Christmas is nearly here! Whether you’re ready or not… Amidst the panic of getting all of your work done before the office closes, there is plenty of time for fun and cheer at the Christmas work-do.

With the festivities in full flow, office parties and work-outings are everywhere. Full of great food, fun and drinks, it’s a great time to let loose after a hard year of work. However, from a HR perspective, there are potential delicate situations to bear in mind. Without wanting be a party pooper to your Christmas plans, in this blog we want to talk about how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace this Christmas. Be this at an evening-do or during office hours, there are many ways in which employers can acknowledge and deal with these situations.

Sexual harassment is inescapable in the media at the moment, with highly commended celebrities being brought up on abusing their power and status to harass other people. This misuse of power and mistreatment of others is something which happens in the workplace more often than we would like to admit, in all types of jobs and industries. Regardless of what you think about what is going on in the media, these issues have brought to light a problem that has been brushed under the carpet for far too long. Sexual harassment in work is sometimes thought of as something of the past, however, this is most certainly not the case. An ABC News – Washington Post poll found that ’33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed—and 14 million sexually abused—in work-related episodes.’ fortune.com

Dealing with sexual harassment in your organisation:

Sexual harassment can be a difficult situation to handle, however, as HR Advisors, we specialise in dealing with delicate problems. Triple Three Solutions advise you go to the proper authorities when necessary, however, we can provide a brief guideline of advice on how to recognise and approach any situations of sexual harassment in your business or place or work.

  1. Investigate ALL Cases:

    As employers, you have a legal and ethical obligation to thoroughly investigate and harassment charges, and to deal with the situation in the best way possible for those involved. It is crucial to not let personal opinions or relationships affect this; i.e. all sexual harassment charges or rumours must be investigated, regardless of if you believe they are fact or not.

  2. Be Vigilant: 

    Understand that it can be difficult for people to come to their management about these kinds of situations. It is therefore important to be aware of any potential tell-tail signs. Whilst it perhaps isn’t possible to completely determine what classifies as sexual harassment, as every person is affected differently by different things, there are some basic signs you can look out for.
    E.G. The following is taken from an article written by Natalie Lewis.’Verbal

    • comments about appearance, clothes, body
    • questions or comments about a person’s sex life
    • requests for sexual favours or touching such as massages
    • promises or threats concerning a person’s employment or promotion chances in return for sexual favours

    Non-verbal

    • looking or staring at a person’s body
    • the display of sexually explicit materials such as calendars, pin-ups or magazines
    • sending of sexually explicit text/pictures via email or social media

    Physical

    • unwanted touching, hugging, kissing, caressing, massages
    • sexual assault
    • rape’
  3. Take Preventative Measures: 

    The best way to deal with sexual harassment, is to try to decrease possibility of it happening in the first place. The best work environments are those where all employees feel safe and comfortable, physically and mentally. Ensure that staff understand what they should and shouldn’t be doing, by including an anti-harassment section within your employee contracts. This policy should give clear examples and definitions, and confirm zero tolerance. Make sure that all employees, both new and old are fully aware of these policies.

  4. Remain Impartial: 

    Whilst you must take all sexual harassment claims incredibly seriously, it is important not to judge before knowing all of the facts. Take an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach as not to damage anyone’s reputation unnecessarily.

Remember, if you are unsure of any practices, polices or behaviours within your organisation, a trained HR Consultant can help. Triple Three Solutions can assist in creating a safe and happy work environment for all of your employees. For more information on how we can help, or for HR Advice on sexual harassment in the workplace; contact us now on 0333 050 3330 or via email at lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk.

Triple Three Solutions, hope you have a safe and happy Christmas-do, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
See you next year!