Over the past two decades and especially since the #MeToo movement’s apparition, the problems concerning the violence against women have been brought to the forefront of the public agenda. The level of violence women have to deal with, both at home and in the workplace is unacceptable. Business managers have to do their duty and make sure women feel safe when they come into work. Here are five basic steps to ensure better working conditions for female employees.
Zero tolerance for sexual harassment
To understand the magnitude of the problem, one only needs to look at these sobering numbers. Half of the British women reported being sexually harassed at work. In the US, the percentage is 38% of all female employees. That’s huge.
The first thing a company needs to do is establish a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment of any kind. This should come in the form of a written document made available to all employees, and the issue needs to be addressed in staff meetings and internal emails. The idea is that all employees need to be aware that sexual harassment and violence against women will not be tolerated.
The policy should be very specific and describe in clear terms what constitutes sexual harassment – from crude jokes and inappropriate touching down to stalking or demanding sexual favors in return for a pay raise.
One such policy is clearly established. Managers need to apply it strictly and punish those who commit any such acts, irrespective of their position in the company.
Background checks are a must
Employers can significantly slash the risks of their women employees being harassed in the workplace can if background checks are an essential part of the pre-hiring screening process. This is no guarantee bad things won’t happen, but HR managers need to make sure the new employees don’t have a criminal history, which includes violence of any kind against women. This is particularly important when you have many female employees, and most of the top jobs are occupied by men.
In Australia, background checks are readily available using the services of online character check agencies that provide police checks in a matter of days, and the whole process is hassle-free. An example of this is the following character check website http://www.australiannationalcharactercheck.com.au/ where checks can be obtained online.
Install security cameras
It’s not about spying on your employees, and you need to explain that the purpose of installing such monitoring equipment is to guarantee personnel safety. Most men will refrain from inappropriate behavior if they know such acts will be recorded. Clear and simple.
Regardless of an employee’s job role or gender, all are at risk of fire-related injuries. Ensure that you have a fire extinguisher readily available with a well-marked fire extinguisher sign.
Ensuring the physical safety of your female employees
If your personnel needs changing rooms, make sure those can be locked from the inside and see to it they are placed at a distance from the rooms for your male employees. Likewise, bathroom facilities should be separated.
Another particular concern for female employees is working late shifts when they have to leave work in the dark. Make sure your parking lot is continuously monitored, and hire security guards. If possible, arrange transportation for female employees, using company cars, or hiring cabs from a reputable company.
Reassure women in your company that their complaints will be heard
Many times women are afraid to speak out, fearing retribution from the higher-ups. Put someone in the HR department in charge of hearing women’s complaints and let all your female employees know who they should contact in an emergency. Give assurances that the facts will be examined, and the culprits will be punished.
For a company, this should always be the preferred course. Otherwise, female employees might be left with no alternative but to call the police and file a lawsuit against the company.
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