Workplace sexual harassment has negative implications for everyone involved. The victims of sexual harassment often experience a chilling effect on their career trajectory because of the psychological impacts of the harassment or because of workplace retaliation.
Companies lose out on the services rendered by workers who are impacted by sexual harassment. Plus, there can be financial consequences if legal action is taken. Thus, written sexual harassment policies protect both the business and the employee.
How does a written policy protect the worker?
When faced with sexual harassment on the job, many people do not know how to react. They may worry about whom to talk to and how to report their experience. A thorough and proper sexual harassment policy will include a reporting process.
Ideally, your company will have a primary means of reporting sexual harassment and an alternative method in case one of the people involved in the primary reporting system commits some form of harassment. Thus, workers have a safe way to communicate what they experienced without fear of retaliation.
When an employee can report what happened, the employer can address it promptly. Theoretically, this will lead to a better work environment.
Companies protect themselves by taking sexual harassment seriously
If a company does not have a policy against sexual harassment and does not provide a way for employees to report abuse, it will be much easier for employees to claim that the company facilitated or at least ignored the harassment. A written policy shows that your company expects its employees to hold themselves to a standard of behavior.
Whether you are a worker concerned about retaliation or an employer hoping to react appropriately to claims, well-written and communicated policies can go a long way toward managing sexual harassment issues.