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A large majority of people spend between 8 to 9 hours daily in their workplace, five to six days a week, thus spending a large part of their lives at work. So, the minimum requirements to be provided would be working in a safe environment away from all types of problems, threats and discomfort.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a common occurrence in the workplace. We keep on hearing the same story over and over again: A woman is being bothered by the persistent interest that a male colleague or boss is taking in her. It is true that sexual harassment can affect men and women; however the majority of cases faced across the world are with women.
In the occasion of the International Women’s Day celebrated by the UN on March 8, we would like to raise a call in support of every woman that has been or is currently a victim of workplace sexual harassment, shedding the light on the definition of sexual harassment, its forms and ways to prevent it in the workplace.
By definition, sexual harassment can take on the form of any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and intimidated.
Sexual harassment can take various forms: unwelcome touching, hugging and kissing, creation of situation to be left alone with harasser, suggestive comments or jokes, staring or leering, unwanted invitations to go out on dates, asking intrusive questions about an employee’s private life, displaying explicit picture or screen savers, sending sexually explicit email or messages, or making inappropriate advances on social networking sites.
It is not easy at all to experience sexual harassment; therefore it is important to deal with it efficiently. To do so, many different ways exist; we shall summarize them in this six steps approach
1- Communicating your disapproval: First, try to avoid the colleague that makes you feel uncomfortable, but if you have to work with him, avoid being alone with him. When he commits any act that you find humiliating, ask him to stop that specific behavior; to stand away if he’s standing too close or not to touch you if he’s putting his hand on your shoulder or hand.
2- Keeping a written journal of incidents: Write down what happened, the exact time and date, what was said and how you chose to deal with the situation. Keep your journal in a safe place, preferably not at work.
3- Tell someone about what is happening: Find a colleague that you trust and share with him/her what is happening. This person can keep an eye on what is happening, and may know other people who were in the same situation with the same perpetrator.
4- Issue a formal complaint: Issue a complaint to your supervisor or to the HR Department. If the harasser is your supervisor, then go to his boss. If not, but your supervisor refuses to take action, go then to the senior management.
5- File a complaint: If your company doesn’t act efficiently or the perpetrator is not intimidated by the procedures taken by your company, you can possibly file a lawsuit and seek monetary damages.
6- Leaving the job: The last resort you would have is to leave your job and search for a more convenient opportunity elsewhere.
Finally, the way you choose to deal with the sexual harassment incident is something that you alone could decide, however it is important to remember that you have the right of being in a safe and enjoyable work environment. So, raise your voice loud and choose not to be a victim of sexual harassment.
THE BUSINESS LOBBY TEAM