What to do with the Weinstein in your company

Monday 11 December, 2017 | By: Courtney Scales

In the wake of the Weinstein situation, wherein over 65 women have come forth amidst allegations of sexual harassment and assault by serial predator Hervey Weinstein, communities across the globe have joined together to revolt against oppressive sexual harassment, starting the #metoo campaign, and leading to a worldwide ‘purge’ of predators across various industries and vocations. 

metoo

The Australian business sector has also seen a sweeping airing of dirty laundry, with TV legend Don Burke being shoved into his much-loved spotlight, for reasons he must retrospectively regret. 

A recent Human Rights Commission report showed a 13 percent increase in sexual harassment claims, also reflecting in a 2012 report that one in four women had been sexually harassed at work in the past five years.

With pressure placed upon workplaces to proactively protect against the threat and accusations of sexual harassment, it is important to understand the underlying processes a business must implement in order to mitigate the risk to both employees and to the workplace. 

This checklist will help you, as a manager, to effectively identify and manage claims at work: 

1.Understand, and be familiar with workplace policies

Identify your current workplace harassment policies, and familiarise yourself with them to ensure that if any situation arises, you have the tools available to understand where your responsibilities lie within the situation, and how to act accordingly. 

It is important to check whether your policies are current, and up-to-date with the latest Sexual Harassment Legislation, which in Queensland is the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 governed by the Anti-Discrimination Commission. If you are unsure of whether your business is compliant, call the CCIQ team on 1300 731 988, or download a policy template from our cciq.templates.com.au store.    

2.Ensure you as a manager, are a model for upholding professional standards

The old adage, "monkey see, monkey do", applies precisely in this situation. Employees often mirror the actions and culture set forth by middle and upper management, and it is imperative that you hold yourself in a professional and courteous manner, reflecting the behaviours in which you would like to see in your staff. 

3.Monitor your workplace actively for aggressive, coercive behaviour 

Whilst many assaults can happen often behind closed doors so to speak, it is management's responsibility to maintain an active stance on ensuring your work reflects the type of behaviour you would like to see in your staff.   

If behaviour which may preclude an assault is starting to take place within the workplace, refer to your company policy on how to proceed with this behaviour, and take proactive steps to monitor and record this behaviour before an employee comes forward with an y unsettling accusations. 

Don’t have a policy on this? Click here to purchase CCIQ’s Sexual Harassment Policies. [maybe not here but maybe]

4.Take reasonable actionable steps to promote company policy 

A written policy on its own is not enough. A policy that is not implemented through communication, education and enforcement will be of little or no use in avoiding liability. Here are few suggestions to get your employees to understand your organisation's sexual harassment policy:  

  • Launch a sexual harassment policy during a company meeting, encouraging all senior managers and executive officers to endorse the policy, emphasising its importance and requirement for compliance. 
  • Provide copies to all employees, whether it be via email or print out, and make the policy readily accessible to all staff should they require it at any time.  
  • Ask all employees to sign the policy acknowledging they have received, and understood it. 

5.Identify and set expectations in relation to acceptable workplace behaviour, and response objectively, fairly, and in a prompt manner. 

As mentioned in the suggestions above, promoting the policy, and requiring employees to read, understand and sign the policy is a thorough way to ensure all parties across the organisation are clear upon their expectations in the workplace as it relates to harassment. 

Employers should establish internal procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints or grievances to encourage in-house resolution. The Sex Discrimination Act does not prescribe any particular complaint procedure so employers have the flexibility to design a system that suits your businesses.

6.Treat every allegation formally, seriously and sensitively.

Many victims often feel as though they are blamed for the assaults that are put upon them, so it is important to maintain sensitivity around managing complaints, to ensure they feel supported and that their complaint will be taken seriously. 

There are two options you have when managing complaints of this nature, and it relates to the situational context of the issue: 

Informal Resolution 

  • Speaking to the person who has engaged in such behaviour;
  • Respectfully informing them that their behaviour is making a person in the organisation uncomfortable; and 
  • Asking them to stop. 

Formal Resolution

  • Refer to your organisation's processes policies currently in place, and act accordingly. 
  • If assistance is required to deal with a complaint, advice should be obtained from relevant employer associations. CCIQ’s Employer Assistance team manages over 800 calls per month, and is fully equipped to help resolve the issues that can come when managing people. 

If your business is experiencing a similar situation, become a CCIQ member to protect your business, and reach compliance. 

In the wake of the Weinstein situation, wherein over 65 women have come forth amidst allegations of sexual harassment and assault by serial predator Hervey Weinstein, communities across the globe have joined together to revolt against oppressive sexual harassment, starting the #metoo campaign, and leading to a worldwide ‘purge’ of predators across various industries and vocations.

The Australian business sector has also seen a sweeping airing of dirty laundry, with TV legend Don Burke being shoved into his much-loved spotlight, for reasons he must retrospectively regret.

A recent Human Rights Commission report showed a 13 percent increase in sexual harassment claims, also reflecting in a 2012 report that one in four women had been sexually harassed at work in the past five years. [highlight]

With pressure placed upon workplaces to proactively protect against the threat and accusations of sexual harassment, it is important to understand the underlying processes a business must implement in order to mitigate the risk to both employees and to the workplace.

This checklist will help you, as a manager, to effectively identify and manage claims at work:

1.      Understand, and be familiar with workplace policies

Identify your current workplace harassment policies, and familiarise yourself with them to ensure that if any situation arises, you have the tools available to understand where your responsibilities lie within the situation, and how to act accordingly.

It is important to check whether your policies are current, and up-to-date with the latest Fair-Work legislation. If you are unsure of whether your business is compliant, call the CCIQ team on 1300 731 988, or [G1] download a policy template from our cciq.templates.com.au store.[G2] [G3] [G4] [G5] 

2.      Ensure you as a manager, are a model for upholding professional standards

The old adage, "monkey see, monkey do", applies precisely in this situation. Employees often mirror the actions and culture set forth by middle and upper management, and it is imperative that you hold yourself in a professional and courteous manner, reflecting the behaviours in which you would like to see in your staff.[G6] 

3.      Monitor your workplace actively for aggressive, coercive behaviour

Whilst many assaults can happen often behind closed doors so to speak, it is management's responsibility to maintain an active stance on ensuring your work reflects the type of behaviour you would like to see in your staff.  [G7] 

If behaviour which may preclude an assault is starting to take place within the workplace, refer to your company policy on how to proceed with this behaviour, and take proactive steps to monitor and record this behaviour before an employee comes forward with an[G8] y unsettling accusations.

Don’t have a policy on this? Click here to purchase CCIQ’s Sexual Harassment Policies. [maybe not here but maybe]

 

4.      Take reasonable actionable steps to promote company policy

A written policy on its own is not enough. A policy that is not implemented through communication, education and enforcement will be of little or no use in avoiding liability. Here are few suggestions to get your employees to understand your organisation's sexual harassment policy: [G9] 

·        Launch a sexual harassment policy during a company meeting, encouraging all senior managers and executive officers to endorse the policy, emphasising its importance and requirement for compliance.

·        Provide copies to all employees, whether it be via email or print out, and make the policy readily accessible to all staff should they require it at any time.[G10] [G11] 

·        Ask all employees to sign the policy acknowledging they have received, and understood it.

 

5.      Identify and set expectations in relation to acceptable workplace behaviour, and response objectively, fairly, and in a prompt manner.

As mentioned in the suggestions above, promoting the policy, and requiring employees to read, understand and sign the policy is a thorough way to ensure all parties across the organisation are clear upon their expectations in the workplace as it relates to harassment.

Employers should establish internal procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints or grievances to encourage in-house resolution. The Sex Discrimination Act does not prescribe any particular complaint procedure so employers have the flexibility to design a system that suits your businesses.

6.      Treat every allegation formally, seriously and sensitively.

Many victims often feel as though they are blamed for the assaults that are put upon them, so it is important to maintain sensitivity around managing complaints, to ensure they feel supported and that their complaint will be taken seriously.

There are two options you have when managing complaints of this nature, and it relates to the situational context of the issue:

Informal Resolution

·        Speaking to the person who has engaged in such behaviour;

·        Respectfully informing them that their behaviour is making a person in the organisation uncomfortable; and

·        Asking them to stop.

Formal Resolution:

·        Refer to your organisation's processes policies currently in place, and act accordingly.[G12] 

·        If assistance is required to deal with a complaint, advice should be obtained from relevant employer associations. CCIQ’s Employer Assistance team manages over 800 calls per month, and is fully equipped to help resolve the issues that can come when managing people.

If your business is experiencing a similar situation, become a CCIQ member to protect your business, and reach compliance.[G13] [G14] 


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