Sexual Harassment May Harm Your Business's Health
Sexual Harassment May Harm The Health Of Your Business Warns Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis
Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis is urging employers and managers to take action after a Human Rights Commission survey showed that nearly one in three women had been sexually harassed, mainly in the workplace.
“Sexual harassment is harmful, unlawful and preventable – if you allow sexual harassment to continue in your business, then you are putting both your staff and your clients at risk”, says Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis. “If sexual harassers are allowed to continue, their offending may escalate into rape or sexual violation.”
Last year almost 200 incidents of sexual harassment were reported to Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis, yet only 19% were reported to the police. 67 perpetrators of sexual violence reported to Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis were employers, health and education professionals, priest or ministers and flatmates. 50% of the incidents were current or had occurred in the month previous to reporting to Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis.
“The survey shows that older men are more likely to use their position of power in their workplace to sexually harass young women,” says Ms Benson, “These young women may feel powerless and unable to speak out about the sexual harassment for fear of being fired – and the survey showed that 31 were fired as soon as they complained.”
Whânau Ahuru Môwai=Rape Crisis says that the price of allowing sexual harassment to continue is likely to result in a high staff turnover, with the associated costs of recruiting and retraining and possibly civil action in the employment court. Instead, employers and managers can take action by establishing their own sexual harassment policy for the company. This should include a clear process to be followed when a complaint is made, with contact people established.
“It is not enough to have a policy – you have to make sure that all your employees understand that sexual harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Training is essential, and this should be backed up by a copy of the company’s policy going to every staff member, and being given out to new applicants. You can raise awareness about sexual harassment by displaying poster throughout the workplace, and this demonstrates your company’s zero tolerance to sexual harassment.”