EEOC offers anti-harassment best practices

The EEOC is urging employers to respond to this fall’s national conversation about sexual harassment by reviewing and updating their policies and practices. Based on the EEOC’s 2016 “Harassment in the Workplace” report, here are the best ways employers can prevent sexual harassment in the workplace:

Leadership and accountability: Employers need a clear, unequivocal statement that harassment won’t be tolerated. Repeat the message frequently.

Assess any unique harassment risk factors in your organization. Regularly evaluate the program’s effectiveness through anonymous surveys and outside assessments.

Comprehensive, effective policy: Your harassment policy must specify that it applies to all employees at every level, plus applicants, clients and customers.

The policy must include an easy-to-understand description of forbidden conduct. It should encourage employees to report questionable conduct even if it may not rise to the level of unlawful harassment.

Promise a quick, impartial and thorough investigation, conducted as confidentially as possible.

Accessible complaint system: Senior leaders must ensure the organization has an effective process so employees can report harassment, providing several avenues for receiving complaints. The policy should promise employees who report harassment that they won’t suffer retaliation. Specifically, employees must be able to report alleged harassment by senior managers and executives without fear of reprisal or punishment.

The system must be available for employees to file complaints in the language they commonly use.

Training: Conduct regular anti-harassment training for all employees. Deliver it in the languages your employees commonly speak. Preferably, it should consist of live, interactive presentations. Senior management should publicly voice their support for the training and the organization’s anti-harassment practices.