When addressing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, business owners need to understand first that no environment is immune.
Data from the National Women’s Law Center shows that any workplace is in danger of experiencing sexual harassment. However, those that have traditionally excluded women – such as the building trades and medical/technical professions – are the worst. In addition, women in low-wage professions like agriculture and food service are also especially susceptible.
Unfortunately, the true extent of workplace sexual harassment can’t be tallied, because so few women report it when it happens to them. Some surveys indicate that between 70 and 90 percent decline to report sexual harassment when it happens. Shame, concern that they won’t be believed, that nothing can be done, and fears of retribution or job loss are all cited as reasons for not reporting the incidents when they occur.
In training employees regarding sexual harassment, it’s important to let them know clearly and firmly that perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law and company policy, and that those who report sexual harassment will receive a fair hearing without fear of negative reprisal or additional harassment.
But sexual harassment remains an abstract concept at many companies, with the lines separating acceptable and unwelcome behavior blurred in the minds of many.
It’s here that audience response technology can help broaden and deepen a company’s education regarding its sexual harassment policies. Rather than having employees watch a dry, hokey film in which awkward workplace scenarios are played out (often to unintentionally comedic effect), use the question/answer and immediate feedback functions of audience response to help foster discussions about how employees of all gender identifications want to be treated, how to build empathy for those who are different, all to help foster understanding across the lines of gender, workplace status and job roles.