A safe and respectful business environment supports personal well-being and professional success. Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a concern in many workplaces.
Understanding how to protect yourself can reduce your risk of experiencing sexual harassment on the job.
Review company policy
Educate yourself about the company’s sexual harassment policy. Familiarize yourself with the organization’s guidelines for reporting incidents. Examine the steps the company will take to address complaints. Knowledge empowers you to take swift and informed action when harassment occurs.
Define clear boundaries
Establishing personal boundaries can help prevent and address sexual harassment. Be assertive in communicating your comfort level with colleagues. Make it known when someone’s behavior crosses those boundaries. Consistently uphold your expectations for respectful interaction.
Speak up when the behavior occurs
If you experience or witness inappropriate behavior, address it promptly. Speak up against comments or actions that make you uncomfortable. Directly express your concerns, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a respectful workplace.
Document every incident
Maintain a record of any incidents or conversations related to sexual harassment. Document dates, times, locations and details of the incidents. This documentation provides valuable evidence if you must make a formal report.
Use available reporting channels
Most organizations have designated pathways to report sexual harassment. Follow the established process to inform the appropriate individuals about the incident. You should document your concerns with your supervisor and with the human resources department.
Seek support from colleagues
If you feel comfortable doing so, talk to trusted colleagues for support. Discussing your experiences with others can help you handle this challenging situation. It may encourage them to speak up if they have seen similar behavior. Strength in numbers can contribute to a more united front against harassment.
Prepare to escalate if necessary
If your initial attempts to address the situation prove ineffective, you may need to take further action. Follow your company’s established escalation procedures. If necessary, seek guidance from higher management or relevant authorities. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handled more than 27,000 sexual harassment complaints from 2018 to 2021.
Dealing with sexual harassment can be emotionally challenging. If you face this situation, protect your well-being with a strong support system. You may also want to seek help from a mental health professional.