Defining and addressing sexual harassment: How to keep your workplace from becoming a hostile environment

Posted On May 2, 2018

They are some of the biggest names of entertainment – Today Show host Matt Lauer, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, former Saturday Night Live cast member/U.S. Senator Al Franken. All famous, all powerful, and all taken down by charges of sexual harassment.

The advent of the #MeToo movement last year resulted in what seemed like an explosion of sexual harassment or assault allegations against famous actors, directors, politicians and others – and those were just the ones that were brought against famous people and therefore made the news.

According to Melanie Miller, an expert on sexual harassment, it’s not that such cases are more prevalent now, but thanks to social media the full scope of the problem has finally been exposed.

In this episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston,” Miller shares the steps a company should take, and the questions each employee must ask themselves, to avoid and condemn sexually harassing behavior, whether intentional or inadvertent.

The standard definition for sexual harassment includes some broad language, and workplace cultures have changed dramatically in the last couple decades. Could it be possible that past behavior that did not seem out of line at the time might now be considered sexual harassment?

Miller says research shows many men, and even women, are still unclear or in disagreement as to what even constitutes sexual harassment. And many men, she adds, still don’t fully understand how pervasive it is – the whole point of the #MeToo movement.

“That’s where the conversation has to start,” she says. “How can we all reach across every gender to have this conversation of being an ally for each other?”

Miller tells us the two primary categories of sexual harassment and some examples of each, shares some advice on what to do if you’re a hugger but aren’t sure whether your co-workers are, and emphasizes the necessity of all companies and organizations having a clearly articulated sexual harassment policy.

Crafting or revising that policy is just a first step, however. An organization’s culture is ultimately what determines whether it’s a welcoming or hostile environment – and that culture is determined, in part, by what its leaders do when allegations arise.

Join us for a timely and enlightening discussion.

Categories: Podcast, Workplace