Australian workplaces are failing to emphasise the importance of sexual harassment prevention training, with businesses lacking the resources to successfully implement such initiatives.
This is just one of the findings in a new report from three esteemed higher education facilities across Australia and the US. A collaboration between the University of South Australia (UniSA), the University of New South Wales and Columbia University found just 58 per cent of Australian employers offer training on sexual harassment issues. The figure pales in comparison to the US, where 91 per cent of firms provide training in this area.
“Everyone needs to be trained about sexual harassment: managers, so they know what to do if they encounter a sexual harassment issue; peers, so they can call out the behaviour if they see it; and potential victims, so they know what to do if it happens to them,” said UniSA Professor Carol Kulik.
Sexual harassment in Australian workplaces
The study adds to a growing body of research indicating that sexual harassment policies are inadequate across many Australian institutions.
University of Sydney research from earlier this year revealed 10 per cent of women claim to have been sexually harassed in the workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission said one quarter of women and 16 per cent of men say they have suffered unwanted advances while at work.
The reported frequency of sexual harassment is similar across Australia and the US, according to Professor Kulik. However, Australia is lagging behind when it comes to providing effective solutions to combat these problems.
“Practitioners in the US dedicate more resources to sexual harassment training, which increases their ability to deliver effective best-practice training,” she explained.
How can workplaces improve sexual harassment prevention?
Professor Kulik and fellow researchers on the project offered various tips to businesses hoping to optimise sexual harassment prevention protocols. The recommendations, which were published by InDaily, are:
- Review your existing policies: A zero-tolerance attitude is essential to building confidence.
- Train managers first: Managers will likely be the first point of contact when complaints are made, so they must be able to deal with issues correctly and sensitively.
- Encourage bystanders: Victims may be reluctant to come forward, which is why all colleagues should be told to speak up when incidents occur.
- Prepare for complaints: Once employees are appropriately trained and educated about sexual harassment, a spike in complaints will likely follow. This is expected and should be a welcome sign that training has been effectively absorbed.
Pursuing sexual harassment compensation
People who feel an organisation or institution has failed to adequately prevent them from being exposed to sexual harassment risks in the workplace may be entitled to compensation.
Please contact an experienced personal injury specialist at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to ensure your complaints aren’t ignored.