Sexual harassment in the workplace can cause significant problems for all involved, leaving employees feeling vulnerable and damaging an employer’s hard-built reputation.
In order to investigate claims of sexual harassment and ensure employees are adequately protected, some companies are seeking innovative ways to try to improve their workplace culture. Recently this has included investing in #MeToo apps. These apps are intended to allow employees to discreetly report instances of sexual harassment.
One particular #MeToo app enables those experiencing harassment or bullying in the workplace to submit a private, time-stamped report attaching relevant evidence such as text messages, emails and voice recordings. Once the employee is ready, the report can be submitted to HR.
Another such app that companies are investing in offers employees the opportunity to speak confidentially to professionals about incidents such as sexual harassment. There is no detail, currently, as to how the app would work. Unless the professionals operate in a similar way to existing employee assistance programmes or otherwise report concerns to the employer so that it can investigate them, the link to an external organisation could pose a concern for many employers.
With recent media attention, allegations of sexual harassment are now, more than ever, a serious and sensitive issue. Employers should take action to ensure as far as they can that their employees work in an environment that is free from harassment.
Apart from investing in new #MeToo apps, currently employers can also take a series of measures in order to promote a working culture that is free from harassment which may include:
- implementing regular and updated training for all employees on harassment and bullying in the workplace;
- reviewing, regularly updating and circulating their harassment policies to all employees so that they are aware of their workplace culture; and
- investigating allegations of sexual harassment fairly, following their relevant policy with both the victim and the harasser.
By both investing in new technology and taking a proactive and hands-on approach with sexual harassment currently in the workplace, employers can uphold their wider obligation of ensuring as far as possible that their employees work in an environment that is free from harassment.