Sexual harassment or misconduct is a common occurrence in the workplace. These are unwanted verbal or physical behavior such as sexual offensive jokes and inappropriate touching. It often thrives due to a hostile work environment and poor HR practices. As a prevalent social issue that mostly goes unaddressed, running a startup without setting up active measures to address it can be detrimental to employees and business growth.
Often, this harassment is targeted at women, but it can happen to anyone. The list of disgraced tech men and startup founders keeps growing. Yet, even as stories after stories have brought these big men on their knees, sexual harassment in many startup companies seems to have no end.
Given this situation, startups need to find solutions to deal with workplace harassment. They will need to be more inclusive, diverse, and gender-tolerant. So, to achieve a robust solution against sexual harassment, here are six solid things to know:
1. There Should Be Training Programs For Startup Employees
Employees feel more comfortable working and cooperating with businesses that practice inclusivity. A practice of inclusivity in the workplace also includes designing various awareness strategies that address all forms of workplace harassment.
To achieve this, startups will need to provide meetings, seminars, workshops, or training on sexual misconduct. More importantly, they’ll need to be specific with the harassment programs to meet the required results. For this, they can consult third-party companies that deal with sexual harassment training in California or other places.
Take note that the training provided shouldn’t only highlight the issue, it should also provide prevention and protection strategies.
2. Startups Should Have Functional Human Resource Practices
Sexual harassment cases continue to thrive in workplaces where there are zero provisions made to tackle the issue in the first place. As a result, the problem had brought about the downfall of many startups and the cancellation of several tech founders.
Startups that have survived workplace harassment have incorporated good human resource practices and measures. These are companies with functional human resource management (HRM), ensuring a secure workplace environment within the workplace by regulating against sexual harassment.
So, to avoid such misconducts and assaults from happening in your company, consider hiring an effective team of human resources.
3. Startups Should Have Policies Against Discrimination
When there’s a functional and active HR, startups can set up policies and rules for gender tolerance. These rules would be a crucial part of the company’s code of conduct. They should look into the issue extensively and address consequences through laid-down corporate principles.
Essentially, this means startups will need to establish regulations that frown on sexual harassment. Some of these regulations must recognize the issue as unwelcomed, create avenues that allow employees to file reports, label consequences for defaulters, and implement effective punishments.
4. Startups Should Adopt An Active And Quick Response Procedure
Often, companies rely only on setting up measures for tackling issues of workplace harassment without having an active response procedure to solve the problem when it arises. The reality is that with every rule, despite how strident they might be, there’ll always be defaults.
In that case, it’s not enough to have a complaint forum. There should be answers to how the company will react to the issue and how fast it can address the problem and bring the offender to justice. Otherwise, it could lead to a series of lawsuits and sexual litigation.
Often, sexual harassment in a workplace thrives not because there are no setup measures to handle them but because they are either passive, inactive, or irresponsive when situations occur. At every time, employees should be confident to report harassment issues without victim-blaming. And one of the ways to uphold this is through creating an active response system.
5. Startups Must Prioritize Confidentiality
Not every victim of sexual harassment wants their predicament to be broadcast. Privacy is usually a safety mechanism for employees with experiences of workplace sexual harassment. So, to avoid any gossip and protect the harassment victim, there should be room for privacy, and victim confidentiality must be prioritized.
This method is even more essential to manage the power dynamics within a workplace. When a startup company prioritizes victim confidentiality, it encourages employees to speak up and assures them there’d be no interference with the security of their jobs.
6. Startups Should Have Independent Workplace Complaint Body
When a startup’s workplace complaint body is answerable to the executive arm of the company, its ability to function efficiently without bias could be affected. The results are often delayed or bypass the corporate code of conduct. Eventually, the startups will fail to address the issue or complaint.
But when the body is independent, it can take decisions that favor proven sexual harassment victims and condemn offenders. Therefore, it’s always advisable that the workplace complaint and policy body of any startup be granted full autonomy.
Workplace sexual harassment is complex. For a startup, creating inclusive opportunities and devising anti-harassment meatupssures to stay on top of this issue is a huge determinant of their business success. And for such matters to be handled, the article provided helpful areas to look into.