Human Capital Management, Human Resources

Anti-Harassment: Are your policies and practices up-to-date?

/ June 29, 2022 June 29, 2022

By: Dana Cheung, Director, Human Resources

In April, 2022 Chicago City Council issued new employer obligations for training, policies, and procedures for employees and leaders on harassment prevention that go into effect July 1st, 2022. These policies come at a time where we are seeing strengthened support for zero tolerance of violence and harassment in the workplace. Have you considered if your city or workplace might be joining Chicago’s lead? 

From an HR practitioner’s perspective, compliance with anti-harassment law is just the start of cultivating a healthy organization. Well-crafted policies are worth their weight and necessary, and they are also just the beginning. The basic commitment towards zero tolerance is demonstrating mutual respect and care for all colleagues, having an accessible and confidential channel for concerned reporting, and taking action when behaviors distract from a positive work environment.  

You might be saying to yourself – we are covered with all that you mentioned already and what is fundamentally different about the City of Chicago’s ordinance? I encourage you to look further.  

SHRM shares shares two specific statistics that are really interesting when paired together:  

  • 57% of HR professionals believe that unreported incidents of sexual harassment happen to a small extent. 
  • 76% of nonmanager employees who experienced sexual harassment did not report it for many reasons, including fear of retaliation or a belief nothing would change. 

As HR professionals we each have an opportunity to advocate for those who need help or are quietly struggling. Below are four great places to start reinforcing this in your organization: 

  1. Clarify what sexual misconduct is. Is there a need to provide greater education and awareness to colleagues in the organization? How about people leaders? An internal communications campaign can help create a healthy and safe space to promote a positive approach. 
  2. Review your handbook and policies around harassment, discrimination, workplace relationships, misconduct, workplace violence, and conflict of interest. How healthy are your policies and the reporting culture?  Are the policies formalized and well communicated?  
  3. Create inclusion by addressing areas of power and equity and creating a safe space for dialogue. How is my leadership promoting equity and inclusion? Do employees and/or people leaders need additional resources? Is the open-door policy and/or confidential hotline known by all? 
  4. Provide support for victims of harassment and violence. Consider talking more internally about dealing with trauma and even extending specific options to employees (EAP, leave of absence, paid time off). 

How leadership acts around topics like anti-harassment is a direct reflection on values. Facilitate open discussions with colleagues and ask what more you can do to protect your employees and improve the employee experience. If Exude can be a resource, let’s start a discussion around connecting compliance with culture and valuing all interactions.  

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