When sexual harassment is reported in the workplace, supervisors have a clear responsibility to respond. You must either investigate the allegations or make sure that HR has enough information to do its own investigation.
But there’s something more you can do: educate employees to confront harassers in a non-violent but effective way.
Stop Street Harassment, an organization that focuses on sexual harassment of women in public places, recommends a set of “assertive responses” that can also be useful for someone who feels she is being harassed in the workplace:
- Name the behavior and state that it is wrong. Example: “Don’t touch my breast. That is sexual harassment.”
- State exactly what you want. Examples: “Stop staring at me,” or “move away from me.”
- Make an anti-harassment statement. Example: “Stop harassing women. I don’t like it. Nobody does. Show some respect.”
- Show your distaste. Example: “I can’t believe you said such a vile thing to me.”
- Liken yourself to women in the harasser’s life. Example: “How would you like it if your mother (sister, daughter, wife) were treated the way you’re treating me?”
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