Two in five women, and one in four men report being sexually harassed at work since 2013, according to recent findings.

Sexual harassment in the workplace has increased considerably in the last six years, according to the Australian Human Rights Commissions (AHRC) – Everyone’s business: Fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces report.

Despite a decrease in stigma, continued media coverage and the rise of movements like #MeToo, formal reporting remains low.

Victims of unwanted sexual conduct are still afraid to report. 

Reasons why sexual harassment isn’t being reported by employees?
 
  • no one will believe me
  • it is not worth it
  • people will ostracise me
  • it could damage my career.
According to the AHRC report, almost half of those who did make a formal report, suggested nothing changed as a result of their complaint. This should be alarming to HR managers and business owners.

What should you do?

Business owners and managers can look at preventative measures to ensure all staff feel comfortable reporting sexual harassment. The measures are there to protect your employees and your business.

A good start is to:
 
  • Have a strong sexual harassment policy. Clearly define sexual harassment and the company’s stance on the issue. Outline what to do if an employee is being harassed, and explain all repercussions of partaking in sexual harassment.
  • Conduct regular training for employees. What to do if you are a victim and what will happen if you are a perpetrator.
  • Conduct regular training for managers. How they should deal with complaints. It is important to ensure your managers and team leaders understand the role they play in creating a zero-tolerance culture about the issue.
Michelle Carter, Owner and Manager of The Retreat Port Stephens knows first hand how important it is to manage sexual harassment in the workplace correctly.

"To manager HR, especially not coming from a HR background, it's hard. Being in small business, one small thing can tip you over the edge with claims," says Michelle.

Michelle was unsure what do when one employee came to her with a complaint of sexual harassment against another employee. That's when she turned to Workplace Assured for advice.

"I now have the correct policies and procedures in place. I have a proper induction program so when people come to the property they are aware of what's expected and how to behave."