Arguably, the #MeToo movement took far too long to begin. Initiated in the fall of 2017 and inspired by the fallout of the allegations of sexual abuse made against Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, the hashtag #MeToo was born out of a rebellion against male-dominated workplaces which, far too often, involve unwanted flirtation, touching and overt sexual harassment.

The #MeToo movement has emboldened women from all walks of life to speak out against their oppressors.

Today, women are encouraged to no longer accept roles in which they feel reticent to protect themselves against unwelcomed advances. However, for far too long, women in workplaces of all kinds have had to endure unfair treatment. Between receiving less pay for equal work and often being regarded as sex objects, women deserved #MeToo a long time ago.

As an employer in 2019, one of your top priorities is to ensure a safe sanctuary from abuse at your business. Unquestionably, all of your employees – whether they are male or female – deserve to know that, under no circumstances, should they feel the fear of encountering sexual harassment. While it may be impossible to guarantee prevention, your position must be clear. Sexual harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable at your place of business.

What is considered sexual harassment?

As described by the Alberta Human Rights Act, “sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour that adversely affects, or threatens to affect, directly or indirectly, a person’s job security, working conditions or prospects for promotion or earnings; or prevents a person from getting a job, living accommodations or any kind of public service.”

The Alberta Human Rights Commission goes on to describe sexual harassment as any attempt by any one person to exert power over another person. Generally speaking, an incident of sexual harassment entails unwanted, coercive behaviour. It can be emotionally abusive or physically threatening. As an employer, it is imperative you have a sexual harassment policy.

What should your sexual harassment policy entail?

It’s important for your policy to clearly outline what is considered sexual harassment and stipulate any repercussions for engaging in such behaviour. There are various ways sexual harassment can take place. As the Alberta Human Rights Commission details, it includes suggestive remarks, sexual jokes, compromising invitations, verbal abuse, visual display of suggestive sexual images, leering, whistling, patting, rubbing or unwanted physical contact.

“In Alberta, employers are responsible for maintaining a work environment free from sexual harassment for all employees, customers and clients,” informs the Commission, “An employer who neglects to follow up on a complaint of sexual harassment may be liable under the Alberta Human Rights Act for failing to take prompt and appropriate action.”

What are your responsibilities as an employer?

By having a clear sexual harassment policy in place, which includes how to properly respond if an employee brings forward a complaint. By taking prompt and appropriate action, you will both protect the integrity of your company and, more importantly, secure the safety of all of your employees.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission can help you to compose your company’s sexual harassment policy. “Commission staff can help employers develop sexual harassment policies that are designed to identify discouraged or prohibited conduct by employees and outline the process for responding to concerns and complaints from staff,” they reveal on their website.

For further details about sexual harassment, download this information sheet and reach out to us at Hire Value Inc.; we love to help!