The #MeToo movement, which was birthed in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, has shined a spotlight on the epidemic of sexual harassment and discrimination in the U.S. According to a nationwide survey by Stop Street Harassment, a staggering 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes, with 38% of women and 13% of men reporting that they have been harassed at their workplaces.

Because of the astounding success of #MeToo — the “Silence Breakers” were named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017 — businesses are bracing for a significant uptick in sexual harassment complaints in 2018. Insurers that offer employment practices liability coverage are expecting #MeToo to result in more claims as well. Forbes reports that they are raising some organizations’ premiums and deductibles (particularly in industries where it’s common for high-paid men to supervise low-paid women), refusing to cover some companies at all, and insisting that all insured companies have updated, comprehensive anti-harassment policies and procedures in place.

In addition to legal liability and difficulty obtaining affordable insurance, sexual harassment claims can irrevocably damage an organization’s reputation and make it difficult to attract the best talent. Not to mention, doing everything you can to prevent a hostile work environment is simply the right thing to do. Every company with employees should have an anti-harassment policy in place, and it should be regularly reviewed and updated as the organization and the legal landscape evolve.

Tips for a Good Anti-Harassment Policy

While the exact details will vary from workplace to workplace, in general, an anti-harassment policy should be written in straightforward, easy-to-understand language and include the following:

* Real-life examples of inappropriate conduct, including in-person, over the phone, and through texts and email.
* Clearly defined potential penalties for violating the policy.
* A clearly defined formal complaint process with multiple channels for employees to make reports.
* A no-retaliation clause assuring employees that they will not be disciplined for complaining about harassment.

In addition to having a formal anti-harassment policy, organizations must demonstrate their commitment to a harassment-free workplace by providing their employees with regular anti-harassment training, creating a “culture of compliance” from the top down, and following up with victimized employees after a complaint has been made to inform them on the status of the investigation and ensure that they have not been retaliated against.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.