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7 steps to stop sexual harassment

7 steps to stop sexual harassment

There’s no more sticking your head in the sand when it comes to sexual harassment at work. To say ‘I didn’t know it was happening’ or ‘It was just banter’ won’t cut it.

In November 2022, the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 was passed into law.

Sexual harassment is now considered serious misconduct and can be a valid reason for termination.

From 6 March, employers have to make sure they’re being proactive in preventing and eliminating sexual harassment at work.

It’s great to see the legislation change to take the responsibility from the victim to the employer and perpetrator for their actions, but what do you do now? How do you make sure you’re meeting your obligations? 

Here are 7 steps to prevent, manage and eliminate sexual harassment in your workplace:
  1. Ask your team

    Find out if it’s happening and the extent of the issue. Ask if they want to be involved in helping to make change. Have a chat if you have a good relationship with them and conduct an anonymous survey to get honest feedback

  2. Understand the law

    Make sure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities

  3. Make sure sexual harassment is included in your zero tolerance policy 

    If you don’t have one, that’s an issue. Take a look at my Business Fundamentals which provides a template and a communications plan to help you encourage staff involvement in updating or creating a policy and grievance handling process

  4. Be transparent

    Make sure all staff understand and are aware of the policy and grievance handling procedure and that the process is simple and accessible

  5. Make reporting easy

    Staff should be encouraged to speak up and report incidents, and the process needs to be simple and accessible. It’s a good idea to have multiple ways for people to report incidents, in case they don’t feel comfortable with one particular avenue. This could include an online reporting system, speaking to a health and safety representative, a senior executive or someone in human resources

  6. Provide regular training

    Not just a tick box exercise… Regular (at least annual) training should be provided for all staff, with additional training for managers, employers, work health and safety reps and HR. People with additional responsibilities and need to know how to take action if an incident occurs. My training for staff empower targets and witnesses to speak up and take action themselves

  7. Take action

    If an incident is reported, take action immediately. Talk to the target and any witnesses, understand the perspective of the perpetrator and follow the grievance handling process. Start performance management if necessary or serious misconduct may allow for instant termination 

Next steps

If you’re stuck and need help with training, policies, processes or performance management, get in touch.

I can also provide performance management templates, surveys or link you in with experts in medication, conflict resolution and investigations if required.