How to handle sexual misconduct in the workplace

Leading Right

8528 Davis Blvd.

North Richland Hills 76182


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In light of sexual assault and harassment allegations across the country, spurred by complaints against Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein and reaching across various industries from entertainment to politics, it’s clear that victims and employers have had enough with inappropriate conduct.

The Fort Worth Business Press caught up with anti-sexual harassment expert Beth Jones to discuss how to handle sexual misconduct in the workplace. Beth Jones is a former human resources executive who founded Leading Right in North Richland Hills, an organization that provides employee engagement surveys, assessments, leadership development, team building and coaching for companies of all sizes and across industries.

What can businesses do during this time when we are hearing so much about sexual assault allegations?

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The most effective thing to do is provide sexual harassment prevention training for their employees and their managers. Heightening awareness and preparing employees so they know what to do and what not to do reduces the risk to both employees and to the organization.

What kind of training can businesses or even universities offer to help with addressing this topic?

They should start with sexual harassment prevention training. This typically entails training for all employees so they understand what sexual harassment is (unwanted attention or behavior) and how to navigate through what could be a “gray area” that can be interpreted different ways. Also, what should they be doing to build good working relationships with their co-workers that avoids harassment situations. In addition, training for managers to help them understand how to recognize sexual harassment and how to handle the situation if it is reported to them.

How should employers handle a sexual assault allegation or complaint?

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It should be promptly and completely investigated. This usually involves the employee, the employee’s manager and any witnesses or potential witnesses and is led by the Human Resources Department. If the allegations are substantiated, immediate disciplinary action should follow.

What resources are available for someone who has experienced sexual misconduct in the workplace?

They should report it immediately to their manager, or if their manager is involved, to their manager’s manager, and to their Human Resources Department.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My company, Leading Right, offers sexual harassment prevention training for companies of all sizes and across industries.