You may be aware of recent headlines about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. This problem has been shown to affect all industries where several high ranking people including media moguls, politicians and movie icons have been accused and shamed, because of their involvement in harassing others who were under their control. In some instances, this has been career ending, and has destroyed lives and families.
Sexual harassment is a terrible act and has devastating effects for the aggressor and for the victim. With movements gaining momentum such as #ME TOO, uncovering it and seeking retribution for those who have suffered from being harassed, is a battle cry that cannot be ignored. The church is not exempt from sexual harassment. In 2010 Bishop Eddie Long was disgraced and lost a large portion of his congregation when news of his sexual abuse of young men was revealed. Years earlier, catholic priests were made accountable for their sexual mistreatment of young boys in their care.
It may be only a matter of time before we see more and more headlines, including churches, and preventing the problem of sexual harassment has never been more critical.
Here are a couple of things that you can do to keep your church and business safe from accusations of sexual harassment, and the negative outcomes from such claims:
1. Sexual harassment training for all leaders, workers in your place of worship and or business. The training will allow your staff to be better able to identify sexual harassment, and know what to do if it becomes an issue in your organization. It will require the above mentioned workers (even those in voluntary positions) to attend a sexual harassment prevention training session. This proactive and preventative approach is expected to remove the risk of sexual harassment and claims of sexual harassment against the church or your small business.
2. A sexual harassment policy specifically prepared for your organization. Completing the training is one half to solving the problem. Your church or firm will have need of a policy that clearly outlines a zero tolerance of sexual harassment, and the consequences that will be applied in the event of failing to uphold the policy.
Be prepared for pushback from your workers...
This training will require a time commitment of approximately 3 hours so you must be prepared to advise: training is mandatory. The real risk for your church or organization is failing to train and creating awareness of sexual harassment with all of the persons listed above, and experiencing a problem with a harassment claim later on. Ignorance is no defense and all persons working in the church or your small business should go through this training.
The bottom line....
Sexual harassment is a real issue that can affect your company or church. Keep in mind, a claim of harassment does not have to be true to be investigated and it will attract negative press. I recommend this training be conducted as soon as possible with annual follow up assessments.
If you are ready to take action and become more informed and protected against sexual harassment, Positive People Practices is ready to help you. A more detailed proposal outlining how we will conduct the training and what you can expect will be created if you decide to move forward.