Sexual harassment is defined by as the unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
If you think you’re being harassed, take these five steps:
1. State your objections clearly
Here’s a story of a lady who was once sexually offended
” I once attended a company offsite complete with trust falls and other physical group activities. At one point, with co-ed groups climbing over each other in yet another survival game, one of the male colleagues made a graphic remark about the women touching the men. I and another female colleague spoke up right away, “That’s not funny.” After the exercise, he apologized. From then on, he kept his same boorish humor but after work hours and not with his female colleagues” .
The situation may not resolve as cleanly as mine did but your reaction needs to be that clear. Don’t make a joke. Don’t stay silent. Don’t get mad – you want to diffuse the situation, not escalate it. A neutral voice is sufficient. This also goes for people who witness harassment – you can and should let the offender know the remarks or actions are unwelcome.
2. Document the unwanted activity
If you state your objection and the harassment continues, continue to state your objections but also document the specifics – date, time, place, details of what the offender did, your response, the offender’s reaction, and who else was present who might have witnessed what happened. You want to have this information available for others you will call in to help you because you already tried to fix the situation on your own and that isn’t working. You can and should get help.
3. Consult helpful outsiders
Start with your support system outside the company. Consult a mentor or friend in HR, and share the documented details.
You also want to look for support inside the company. Have you seen harassment of others? Are these colleagues willing to join your effort? Maybe a case has already been opened, and you can lend your support to that. What does your company policy guide state about how to report harassment? Typically, HR is the first step to make an official case, but you may want to start the dialogue with the offender’s boss.
4. Start an official case
If you don’t know the offender’s boss or aren’t comfortable dealing directly with that person, then start with HR. Your HR contact should open an investigation which will include speaking to the offender, that person’s boss and other potential witnesses to the offender’s behavior. Again, your documented details will come in handy here, so you really want to have all the activity captured.
Remember that these steps are helpful for all types of harassment, not just sexual harassment. Remember, too, that you are involved even if you are not the offender or the harassed: If you see bad behavior, you should call it out. If you are the manager of someone who is harassed or someone accused of offending, you need to take action immediately—listen with an open mind to both accounts, document as much as you can, and enlist HR support.