Tip Sheets

Talking about Sexual Harassment: Tips for Managers

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Sexual harassment can be uncomfortable — even embarrassing — to talk about. Although Human Resources and other leaders in the company will take charge should a sexual harassment concern arise, managers need to be skilled in these conversations, too, because they often are the first to learn of issues. Knowing the right time and place to ask questions or initiate discussions with employees is difficult even for the most seasoned supervisors. But it's important. Team members need to know and trust they can come to you or others within the company with concerns. Use these conversation starters and strategies in team meetings or in one-on-one discussions to get past the taboo and open the lines of communication. Make sure to listen to your employees' responses and validate or explain them. CONVERSATION STARTERS Sexual harassment has been in the news a lot recently, mostly because of celebrities and politicians who are in the spotlight. Do you think that kind of stuff happens in the real world? • Sexual harassment happens in all different environments. The workplace in particular can be a vulnerable setting due to the real or perceived power and influence individuals have over one another. • Our company has strict policies against sexual harassment, which include procedures for how to report incidents and organizational justice. Why do you think we're hearing more about sexual harassment these days? [Leave question open-ended or press further:] Do you think it's happening more now or do you think people are feeling more empowered to speak out? • Highly publicized incidents of sexual harassment are certainly bringing the issue to light, but sexual harassment is not new. • One of the reasons we may be hearing more about sexual harassment is that companies like ours have developed procedures to give employees an official process for reporting incidents. Through this process, victims' voices can be better heard — and their stories believed. TALKING ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT: TIPS FOR MANAGERS WALKTHETALK

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