How Companies Are Empowering Employees to Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment One Year After Launch of #MeToo Movement
#MeToo could very easily be you too. As in, the people who work for you. The office you go to each day.
A recent study found that nearly one in three Americans claim to have been sexually harassed at work, including an estimated 45 percent of women. With odds like those, there’s probably someone in your workplace who’s been through it, is struggling with it now, or will be soon.
For too long, workplace sexual harassment has been underreported and, all too often, shrugged off as ‘no big deal’. But now, in the streets, in the courts and in the court of public opinion, people are standing up and proclaiming enough’s enough. If the recent impact of #MeToo is to have lasting importance, history must prove that the movement was a critical tipping point in our national (and perhaps global) culture, which for too long turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the pervasive problems of sexual discrimination and harassment in our workplaces.
Fix the Problem Not the Blame
A common focus in the #MeToo stories has been the way that employers have addressed (or not) their employees’ pleas for help. And too often, the picture painted in the media hasn’t been flattering to corporate culture at large. The message is that sexual harassment in the workplace is a big problem and complaints are too often ignored or mishandled.
And though it’s easy to point the finger at businesses for not doing enough, we know that HR departments are tasked with enormous responsibility and often operate with very lean staffing, struggling to stay ahead of the daily avalanche of emails from employees and administration asking for information and action on complex personnel situations. To add to this burden is the ever more burdensome requirements for compliance and reporting.
This fact of life in today’s corporate landscape makes for surging stress as companies struggle to find solutions to urgent problems that are actually effective, solutions that make it easier to resolve a problem situation than it is to ignore it.
The Good News
The good news is that more and more companies are making sure that this turn in the moral compass, marked by increased awareness and calls for change inspired by the #MeToo movement, isn't just an optimistic blip on history’s radar. These companies are taking decisive, deliberate action to empower employees to help fight sexual harassment in all of its forms.
They are taking hard looks at the effectiveness of their longstanding methods for handling problems and complaints and asking whether there are better ways. And in many cases, they’re concluding online, anonymous methods can be an important part of the solution.
They are looking at anonymous reporting solutions like STOPit.
Anonymity Encourages First Steps and Accountability
While the number of workers who’ve faced sexual discrimination and harassment is high, the vast majority keep it to themselves. Nearly three-quarters of women and 81 percent of men who say they have been sexually harassed at work did not report it.
In a recent article published in Human Resource Executive, Neil Hooper, chief revenue officer for STOPit Solutions offers perspective on why the company’s mobile app is a successful problem-solver for companies that are serious about establishing a ‘no tolerance’ culture regarding sexual harassment. According to Hooper, people are more likely to report incidents of harassment they have experienced or witnessed “in the moment”. The longer people wait to report, he says, the more likely they are to look back and second-guess what happened.
“If they go home and think about it, they start to wonder whether they interpreted the situation wrong. As time passes, they lose their courage to step up,” says Hooper. “Technology provides the ability for a very quick, convenient, natural method of recording that something wrong is going on, to capture the moment immediately after it happens.”
The true anonymity provided by mobile, cloud-based reporting solutions, opens doors. STOPit corporate customers report that there’s a ‘feeling out’ process that typically unfolds in the first few weeks after STOPit debuts, as users learn more about the app and explore the resource. Sometimes it’s through word of mouth and other times it’s the result of a few interactions with the administrator, but users quickly learn that there is a real person who cares on the other end of the text thread and grow comfortable enough to share their troubles.
And with the STOPit solution, administrators have the added value of an incident management system that is intuitive and can be customized to best serve the client when escalating and resolving any issue.
It Costs Too Much to Do Nothing
The fact is that, in the wake of #MeToo, doing nothing is not an option for companies that want to remain competitive and profitable. Beyond any moral imperative, there’s the real cost of settling sexual harassment claims, plummeting morale and damage to a company’s reputation -- these are real consequences that cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars each year in legal fees, loss of productivity and increased use of medical benefits.
Alex Fotopoulos, a lawyer in NYC, recommends STOPit to his clients because “I believe it provides a central and accessible reporting system that is anonymous and confidential. The STOPit system may serve to facilitate reporting of incidents that aren’t currently being brought forward, and allows organizations to identify specific areas of concern with targeted responses more quickly and efficiently than through other methods of reporting.”
Companies -- and their employees -- deserve real solutions that are effective and easy to implement and use. Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated, and in companies that embrace their power to remake their culture and empower employees to be part of the solution -- #MeToo will eventually be an important moment in our history, not a fact of life.
STOPit Solutions for the workplace can be your easy to implement, effective solution to help address reports of sexual harassment. Call one of our representatives today or enter your information below to learn more.