Are you sure there isn't a Harvey Weinstein in your organisation?

October 5, 2017 / By Gary Berney

The near daily revelations about the shocking behaviour of Harvey Weinstein has shone a much needed light on how influential or powerful people abuse that influence or power to pressurise, mainly women, with their unwanted advances and sexual harassment.

Whilst we may look at Hollywood and feel it's particular to that industry, the reality is far more unpalatable. A recent survey over in the UK carried out by YouGov on behalf of Young Women’s Trust looked at low paid female workers in large organisations and found that 1 in 8 had experienced sexual harassment at work.

It's a shocking statistic but perhaps only the tip of the iceberg. Organisations were asked if there had been reports of sexual harassment in the workplace, with 10% of organisations with 250 or more employees admitting there had been, while 12% said that they were aware of incidents that had gone unreported.

It's this last stat that worries me most. Unreported sexual harassment can be due to a lack of personal confidence to report an incident, worrying that you could lose your job if you mention the incident or a feeling that you won't be listened to and therefore don't report it. How many of Weinstein’s advances could have been stopped if the was a hunger within the film industry to stamp out this behaviour?

You can't assume that it's not happening in your organisation. So what are HR departments doing to make sure that employees know that any incidents can be easily and confidentially reported, while ensuring that they can be confident that an investigation will take place and where substantiated, disciplinary action will be taken against the perpetrator. I believe it’s time to revisit your employee behaviour policies and ensure they are as robust as can be on this matter.

The reality is, failure to protect employees against such behaviour ensures that good workers will simply leave the organisation if they feel the culture is toxic, the company's reputation on many social networks will take a hammering and trying to engage your employees and encourage them to lower your recruitment costs by referring people into the business will become far more problematic.

It's incumbent on all HR departments to keep their employees safe and not let the Weinsteins' of this world, of which I've no doubt there are many, have free reign to do as they please without fear of disciplinary action.

Gary Berney