Voted Best Sexual Harassment Training Solution in 2021 by The Balance SMB

How to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace [2021 Ultimate Actionable Guide]

You don't want any form of sexual harassment in your workplace. No one does.

It can be extremely costly if you don't know how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
One of the largest settlements in U.S. history was a sexual harassment case. Guess how much the guilty business, Mercy Medical Center, had to pay....? $168 Million!

More importantly than the financial costs are the mental and physical damages to your hardworking employees that can never truly be erased or reconciled with money. They will have to live with these experiences forever, and these are not the kind of memories you want to build with your employees!

You also don't want the negative press that could follow and get dragged out for years.

Having even one person in your workplace that supports, encourages, or carries out acts of sexual harassment can make your entire company culture toxic. It is simply not worth the trouble of having someone who supports sexual harassment in your workplace around the rest of your employees.

You want to avoid these financial and social costs, right? So, how can we ensure that we discourage sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sign up to easily receive Sexual Harassment Compliance Training at your organization

In this Ultimate Guide, you will find the most effective ways how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace in 2021 in a quick and easy-to-read format. Here is an actionable overview that you must check out of the topics that will be covered:

DEFINITION & SCENARIOS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
  • Understanding What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (Definition)
  • Becoming Familiar With All Types of Sexual Harassment at Work
  • What To Do If You Are Actively Being a Victim of Sexual Harassment in Your Workspace

HOW EMPLOYEES AND COMPANY CULTURE CREATE A SEXUAL HARASSMENT-FREE WORK LIFE
  • Recruit & Hire Employees Who Have Strong Ethics and Values
  • Create a Workplace Culture That Empowers Employees To Actively Support a Sexual Harassment-Free Workplace

WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING, EDUCATION, POLICY, AND PROCEDURE
  • Implement a Positive and Effective Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program
  • Establish a Trustworthy Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure
  • Modernize Workplace Standards To Adapt to 2021 Worker Experiences and Challenges

CONCLUSION

Alright! Let's dive right in to find out more about how you can prevent workplace visual, physical, and verbal harassment from ever happening on your watch!

DEFINITION & SCENARIOS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

Sexual harassment in the office and worksite can take many forms, so it is important for you to understand very clearly what legally constitutes sexual harassment at your place of business.

The U.S. Department of State defines sexual harassment as "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment”
Since this is a pretty broad definition, let's explore some real-life examples next.

Becoming Familiar With Both Types of Sexual Harassment at Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which provides guidance on defining sexual harassment and establishing employer liability, states that there are two specific types of sexual harassment claims.
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, does a wonderful job of describing each of these types of sexual misconduct:

1. Quid Pro Quo: expressed or implied demands for sexual favors in exchange for some benefit (e.g., a promotion, pay increase) or to avoid some detriment (e.g., termination, demotion) in the workplace.
Quid pro quo harassment is perpetrated by someone who is in a position of power or authority over another (e.g., manager or supervisor over a subordinate). A clear example of quid pro quo harassment would be a supervisor threatening to fire an employee if he or she does not have sex with the supervisor.
EasyLlama’s engaging and effective Quid Pro Quo Harassment Training covers and explains what quid pro quo harassment is with bite-sized videos and real-life examples that people can relate to.

Sign up now for Quid Pro Quo Harassment Training (starting at only $9.95 for employees and supervisors)

2. Hostile Work Environment: arises when speech or conduct is so severe and pervasive it that creates an intimidating or demeaning environment or situation that negatively affects a person's job performance.
Examples of conduct that might create a hostile work environment include inappropriate touching, sexual jokes or comments, repeated requests for dates, and a work environment where offensive pictures are displayed.

What To Do If You Are Actively Being a Victim of Sexual Harassment in Your Workspace

Report any incidents of sexual harassment immediately to your supervisor and dedicated HR representative. Typically, HR handles harassment claims. If your supervisor is the harasser, then contact their supervisor instead.
Take this very seriously and let the perpetrator know that their behavior is offensive and will not be tolerated. File a sexual harassment complaint and demand an investigation. 
If you don't feel like your situation has been resolved after going through your company procedures, seek legal help.

HOW EMPLOYEES AND COMPANY CULTURE CREATE A SEXUAL HARASSMENT-FREE WORK LIFE

Recruit & Hire Employees Who Have Strong Ethics and Values

Inappropriate sexual conduct at work simply cannot exist without employees, so recruiting and hiring workers who have strong ethics and values is a must.
Preventing harassment of a sexual nature in your workplaces starts with your hiring process!
Make this a serious talking point in the final interview stages to ensure your new hire is committed to actively stopping any unwelcome behaviors they witness.
 

Create a Workplace Culture That Empowers Employees To Actively Support a Sexual Harassment-Free Workplace

Everyone wants to feel safe when they are at work.
Make sure you are checking in with all of your employees on a regular basis about how they feel about their quality of life while working at your organization. Create a team of people who would like to volunteer to cultivate a supportive, inclusive, and harassment-free work culture.
Publicly recognize and award those who contribute to a safer and more comfortable work environment. Lead by example and demonstrate to all employees that your company values a safe workplace.
Your company leaders must make it undeniably clear that your place of work has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment.
 

Preventing Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Implement a Positive and Effective Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program

When onboarding new hires, make them read and sign a sexual harassment handbook to educate them on your company standards, expectations, and zero-tolerance related to sexual harassment.

All employees should undergo ongoing sexual harassment training and education to best be able to protect themselves, their work environment, as well as their business.

Try EasyLlama, a trusted compliance training company, to help you implement a successful Federal Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program for your workplace. 

During training sessions, make sure to keep the attitude positive and don't focus too much on the compliance legalese. Instead, focus on how everyone can work together collaboratively to keep their workplace an enjoyable place for everyone to work at.

Let your employees know that in some circumstances, those who witness sexual harassment may be considered complicit in the act if they fail to report it.
 

Establish a Trustworthy Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure

Without fine-tuning a sexual harassment complaint procedure that is perceived as trustworthy to all employees, no amount of training will make a difference when a real allegation of sexual harassment arises.

Ensure that all employees understand the policy and procedures for dealing with harassment, and know who to reach out to handle incidents. Consider developing an anti-harassment policy together with employees, managers, and union representatives to build employee support and ownership of the policies in place.

You must provide a mechanism that handles sexual harassment in a confidential and sensitive manner. Make sure dedicated employees are well-trained to review allegations of sexual harassment. Reassure employees that they won't be punished for asking questions or sharing their concerns.

Most importantly, respond seriously to all complaints with compassion and by leading with a zero-tolerance policy. Take swift and decisive actions immediately as sexual harassment allegations arise. Every minute you let pass by could be unpredictably costly to your company.
 

Modernize Workplace Standards To Adapt to 2021 Worker Experiences and Challenges

The last 4 years have placed an unprecedented spotlight on sexual misconduct in business and politics, social equity, and equality for minorities (Think #MeToo movement and the worldwide year-round protests for equal rights and racial injustice).
On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has put more attention on sexual harassment happening in a virtual setting. The way the world works is rapidly changing, and your business must keep up!

It's important that your employees monitor and revise the policies, procedures, training, education, laws, and information programs on a regular basis to ensure that it is still effective and relevant for your unique work environment.

Numerous organizational behavior studies for decades have shown that using diversity and inclusion training in your workplace as well as establishing it as core principles in your business not only helps your bottom-line, but also increases worker productivity, employee retention, and much more.

In 2021, investing in this kind of workplace culture training is a no-brainer since the ROI has been proven time and time again to pay for itself.
 

Wrapping It All Up

There are many great benefits to your workers and your business for actively eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment at work, let's recap the major ones:

  • Prevents legal problems caused by poor handling of sexual misconduct
  • Avoids financial, social, mental, and physical costs to your business and employees
  • Proactively guards against the negative press, social media, and company reviews hurting your brand's reputation, while promoting social welfare and boosting your brand power
  • Empowers your employees to own their work and actively promote a healthy work culture
  • Employees make more informed decisions because they are properly educated and trained on modern workplace expectations, laws, and penalties
  • Fosters a collaborative work atmosphere where coworkers model success for their peers. This model of success helps your company stand out among competitors and attract better talent.
  • Workers in your organization have lower turnover rates, higher productivity rates, volunteer for the business more often, lower stress, and enjoy a higher quality of life
  • More time will be saved because fewer mistakes will be made due to a lack of training, education, and understanding of internal company policies and procedures
  • When an entire workplace is properly trained on sexual harassment compliance, all employees are able to feel more respected, comfortable, and at ease where they spend most of their life
 

How Can We Completely Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

The harsh reality is that sexual harassment happens all the time, every year, in too many organizations all over the world.
The only way to completely eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace is by interweaving sexual harassment compliance into every facet of your business.

This means it starts with your leadership team always modeling best practices in your workplace. The people you hire on your team must care about preventing sexually unwelcome behaviors.

Your workplace culture needs to assertively weed out and prevent sexual harassment from happening. Highly transparent and effective sexual harassment training, education, policies, and procedures need to be put in place and routinely updated to adapt to the ever-changing times.

We were recently honored as the #1 best overall sexual harassment training solution of 2020 by the well-known The Balance curation website. Here's what they had to say:

"The company creates engaging, compliant sexual harassment training for employees that meets all federal, state, and local requirements. EasyLlama provides sexual harassment training that is fast, flexible, and cost-effective, and that’s what most employers need. That’s why we chose EasyLlama as our best sexual harassment training provider. Training from EasyLlama starts at $13.95 per employee (up to 50 employees) and is discounted as employers purchase more licenses. Training is broken down into 10-minute sessions that employees can access 24/7, including from mobile devices."
We absolutely love what we do, which is why we look forward to trying to be the best at educating and helping businesses prevent sexual harassment in the workplace for years to come!