A strong ethics and compliance program should be at the center of every business and company, regardless of who’s working there. These programs, while needing to be sought after with diligence and built with thoughtfulness, are a necessity when it comes to a safe, fair and compliant work environment for all. This will encourage employees to speak up when it comes to harassment, an ever-relevant concern in any workplace.
A Top-Down Approach
A study touted by CNBC shows that about one in five adult workers have faced sexual harassment in particular at work. While this number is staggering, it also mentions how sometimes victims do not feel safe or inclined to report harassment. There needs to be endorsement from the top down, which only help to encourage employees’ trust in their superiors.
If someone does not feel they have the support from executives they need, or feel like their reports were not handled well, there can be legal issues at hand. In this case, it is important for companies to invest in management liability insurance, which handles multiple aspects of the legal ramifications in the arena of harassment.
But before legal issues arise, it’s important to know how a company can encourage its employees to speak up and report workplace harassment. Here are some ideas:
Publicize and Promote
Sometimes employees just simply don’t know where to go or who to talk to and report misconduct. Companies may have a resource or access to a hotline or a point person, but it is not advertised or spoken about enough. A successful program should ensure that employees are aware of their options to report misconduct, are offered multiple methods to report an issues, and are trained on the code of conduct and what types of behavior should be reported.
With a more digitally savvy workplace in almost every industry, there are now e-learning opportunities for employees. Your company can look into training software that allows employees to take mandatory courses online, even during work hours. Of course, there is the traditional in-house approach that brings in an ethics professional to provide a lunch and learn-type opportunity for employees to see, and even act out, first hand examples of harassment.
Multiple Ways to Report
Besides just providing a hotline or one point person who handles all the reporting, a company should offer up multiple platforms to report misconduct. Here are some other good options:
- Web portal
- Customized email address
- Suggestion/complaint box
Having 24/7 access to report an issue should be mandatory for any compliance and ethics program. Employees can be nervous about coming forward to report harassment. They may fear exclusion, retaliation or even losing their jobs. A company can provide a 24/7 hotline that has a trained operator ready to take any and all reports of harassment.
The ultimate goal should be to encourage your employees to feel safe at their workplace, but when something happens where they feel harassed, they should also feel encouraged to speak up. Creating a culture of integrity and accountability should be at the forefront of every company and its ethics program. Offering your employees the trust they need to feel safe and supported, as well as the options and actions they can take advantage of when reporting misconduct, will only add to your bonded sense of trust and transparency.
About Walker & Associates
If you’re in the market for a new insurance partner, do your homework to ensure a lucrative venture and positive relationship. Contact us online at Walker & Associates Insurance or by phone at (800) 213-7126 for your insurance needs. We can explain your coverage options and how much coverage will cost.