Rewriting The Rules

Five steps to help HR prevent sexual harassment at work in the #MeToo era

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US, the #MeToo movement received a lot attention around the world, especially from women. Women started detailing their personal experiences of sexual harassment on Twitter. Vietnam also felt the impact and published policy guidelines for companies under the management of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for reporting and addressing sexual harassment issues in the workplace. In the guidelines, sexual harassment is defined as an inappropriate act of sexual nature, which attack the dignity of men and women in the working environment.

In April 2019 The Guardian reported a research, carried out by Care International and the Fair Wear Foundation, which stated that among half of the working women in Vietnam, nearly one out three has claimed to have suffered sexual harassment in factories throughout various provinces in Vietnam.

A recent news article published in VN Express titled, “Blame the victim culture weakens #MeToo in Vietnam”, reported an incident where a police investigation into a case of sexual harassment resulted in the culprit only receiving a fine of VND200,000. The victim was not satisfied with this penalty and was quoted as saying that it was a gesture to support culprits instead of victims by discouraging them during sexual harassment investigations. Today, offenders in Vietnam are only obligated to pay VND100,000 to VND300,000 in penalty for workplace harassment.

Revise Your Company Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment Policies

The first step to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace is to revise the company code of conduct policy according to updated labor laws. New policies should introduce to inform workers about the reporting procedure of sexual harassment. The names of people of respected authority should be stated to inform the victims to whom they can connect. It will support the practice of reporting of incident in a comfortable environment. Every company should define the clear sexual harassment policy under the consideration of company culture by using understandable textual support. It should be included in the employee handbook to create ease in assessment and understanding for workers.

Execute Anti-harassment and Conflict Coaching Training for All Staff

Companies can save costs by moving from rights-based approach to interests-based approach to produce a win-win situation through effective resolution setup. The training of staff should be done not only related to ILO but also with personal conflict management coaching to handle real-life problems at the workplace. HR can surely help by designing a setup in which employees can get training from the beginning of their careers about acceptable and nonacceptable behaviors.

Implement an Online System to Report and Monitor Harassment

Online systems for reporting and monitoring sexual harassment incidents at the workplace will help employees to speak up about their painful experiences without fear of getting nominated. There are at least three ways to implement this practice for the benefits of employees. The complaint form can be generated and modified according to company policies and working culture.

  1. Employee Exit Survey: It will help the employees give feedback on the culture of the company they are leaving. This should be completed by employee and supervisor. The employee will be able to provide more appropriate answers about their jobs and employers.
  2. Incident Report Form: It includes proper documentation of incident in the company, which will help in reporting the unfortunate happenings to rescue other employees in the future. It will support in keeping detailed records of sexual harassment cases in the companies.
  3. Workplace Harassment Form:

This form is helpful to create awareness among employees and members of human resource department about types of workplace harassment and reporting methods along with penalties. Apart from all these forms, the manager should try to console the victims by opening the doors for them to listen about complains on workplace harassment.

Create a Customized Automatic Dispute Resolution System Process

In order to resolve the conflicts inhouse, the dispute resolution system can provide essential help. Automatic Dispute Resolution (ADR) system will help to handle manageable conflicts before their landing in courts. Six major steps are included in this ADR system:

  1. Checking compatibility of program with organization’s goals.
  2. Identifying major stakeholders to insert dispute resolution setup
  3. Researching all the major types of dispute-resolution programs to find the most appropriate method to support vision of company. It can also include outside mediation or peer review involvement.
  4. Designing the appropriate program for company, which is suitable through creating cross-functional teams at HR level.
  5. Getting feedback from employees after designing a customized program by using surveys, team meetings, interviews, virtual meetings ad roundtable talks. These methods will help you to handle concerns of end-users.
  6. Designing an effective communication plan and project delivery strategy. You can decide whether you want to run a pilot program or move towards the widescale launch in the company.

Explore and Implement Flexible HR-Tech: Online Dispute Resolution for HR

When selecting an HR technology for receiving, managing and tracking workplace issues, it is most important to think about:

  1. Information accessibility
  2. Ease of reporting
  3. Reporter privacy and protection
  4. Managed inclusion of all relevant team members
  5. Auditability
  6. Flexibility during resolution

When reports are made to the wrong authorities, or when the alleged perpetrator has the ability to be inappropriately informed or involved in a case, many risks emerge for both the company and its employees. These risks multiply in a digital world where data can flow more quickly and be retained more easily than it ever could on paper.

Those picking an appropriate technology to support their ADR process should ask whether the platform can:

  1. Be accessed through any computer or smart device
  2. Let employees read all workplace contracts, policies, or manuals that are relevant to them
  3. Understand issues that do not neatly fall into one specific classification
  4. Securely report an incident to the appropriate authority
  5. Manage asynchronous collaboration during issue resolution
  6. Export an audit trail that is defensible if brought to any government agency or court

A customized dispute resolution system complimented with the right technology and training for implementing any ADR solution is often as important as the process itself. Many workplace issues do not fit into simple boxes, so using systems that stifle employee engagement by being overly specific or inflexible can derail any great program before it gets going.

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