Perhaps not since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas headlines has the workplace been so charged with potential and actual reports of sexual misconduct. Just before those events, in 1991, I’d taken my first law office job in a small labor and employment law firm. So enormous was the media attention over the hearings, it set the path for my entire career.
With the facility of social media, the workplace is now facing a fresh, unprecedented wave of sexual harassment headlines, complaints and legal scrutiny.
Some of the most proactive advice to give employers and employees to help them address workplace misconduct is:
- Let employees and co-workers know that the resolution door is open and the opportunity to know their concerns is welcome.
- Let them know that you both want the same thing – a workplace that does not interfere with the ability to work and succeed.
- Provide or utilize a means of putting people in touch with someone who has authority to take the matter seriously and do something about it – be it in person or by way of an anonymous hotline.
- Among contact options, provide and identify at least one female and one male to whom persons can report concerns.
- Consider involving a third-party neutral in the process, such as a mediator, diversity/anti-discrimination trainer or investigator. There are a variety of ways to approach workplace issues, and it’s never too late or too early to address them.
These messages and methods are probably already a part of your workplace or one you manage. It may be as simple as engaging in or highlighting them to maximize the benefits of the workplace-level approach, and protect a job, human resources and other valuable investments.
On behalf of yourself, an employer or employee, please call or email me anytime to discuss how a neutral can be of help.