Workplace harassment is NOT something to be taken lightly. Managers and supervisors are one of the primary agents of reducing and eliminating sexual harassment in an organization, and there are several important things they need to learn through effective anti-harassment training.
Responsibilities of Managers and Supervisors
First, supervisors should recognize that they are held to the highest standard of conduct. If there is a “line” to cross, then they should not be thinking about simply not crossing the line – they should be nowhere near the line at any time.
Secondly, there is a mantra to remember whenever any mention of a sexual harassment complaint comes up: “Call HR.” Supervisors are not expected to handle these complaints on their own because of the serious nature of them. The Human Resources professional(s) of your organization need to be notified of the situation every time, so they can take appropriate action.
Besides letting HR know, every supervisor must know how to appropriately respond to a harassment complaint. If a complaint is mishandled, it is not only the organization that has to deal with the mistakes. Supervisors can be held personally and financially responsible for not giving a complaint the attention it requires or taking the appropriate action.
One of the biggest things a supervisor needs to remember is that if an employee comes to them and wants to talk about something but asks for complete confidentiality, the supervisor CANNOT agree to that.
Any instance of harassment must be reported to HR, and they may have to do an investigation that requires speaking to other employees about what they have observed. They can operate with discretion, but confidentiality is not a promise a supervisor can make. If the employee decides not to share their concerns because of this, the supervisor must still report to HR that there are concerns the employee is reluctant to disclose, and let HR handle it from there.
The best scenario in handling sexual harassment is to not have it happen in the first place.
Enjoy a 1-minute preview of “Supervisor Responsibilities” below:
An important part of handling harassment complaints is actively listening to the concerns being voiced. Download this free guide to improve vital listening skills.