In today’s world, organizations have a lot to worry about. There is the threat of terrorism, the ongoing fear of cyber attacks, corporate scandals and a rash of campus shootings/assaults. Add to this, the fact that women generally seem to have gained equality in the professional workplace. After all, as of the day this discussion was created, we have two women running for President of the United States. One was formerly the CEO of one of the largest tech companies in the world and the other was formerly the Secretary of State as well as a US Senator.
In light of these points, is the issue of sexual harassment still a relevant concern in the typical workplace? Why or why not? To what degree should businesses/organizations dedicate valuable resources to training, prevention and preparedness to the issue of sexual harassment? Finally, does “security” have a role in all this or is it purely a “Human Resources” issue?
Recently, cases of sexual harrasment have surfaced in companies like Uber which on outer seems to be high tech, gender neutral and equal opportunity. Hence, we need to revisit ou belief systems. Sexual harrasment can happen at any work place. It may happen in a place where women might constitute only 20% of workforce and it may happen in places where women may constitute majority. It may happen at lower levels of organization or it may happen at the top. However, let’s accept it: More awareness, changing gender roles, more participation of women in labour force, zero tolerance shown by courts in setting it right has helped the matters positively.
It does not require organizations to spend too much on training, prevention and preparedness to the issue of sexual harrasment. What generally lacks is “intentions”. If during the times of orientations, employees are clearly informed that the organization has a zero tolerance policy towards such issues and the organization also ensures that it will create a conducive atmosphere for victims to “speak up”, I believe we can stop a majority of cases from happening. Other than induction training, regular updates on gender sensitivity and setting an example if any complaint comes are better ways to ensure that we create a conducive atmosphere.
Security and surveillance has a role to play. Chances of harrasment are always higher in odd shifts, pick ups and drops and in isolated spaces. However, to completely look it either as a “security” issue or “HR ” issue is wrong. It can be either, or a combination of both too.