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May 2008


Preventing Sexual Harassment

It goes without saying that every company needs to stay ahead of this issue.  But what is the issue?  One definition of sexual harassment might be "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: A. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; B. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; C. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."

Want to prevent sexual harassment?  Follow these rules.

Key Rules

1. Look, But Don't Touch

Unless touching is a physical necessity of some particular job function, it is a bad idea. If touching is completely innocent, then find another way to convey your innocent message.

2. Actually . . . Don't Look Either

Looking can be just as offensive.  Once we have noticed an attractive individual, we need to consciously choose to get on with our lives and stop leering, scoping, or staring.

3. Do Unto Others . . .

As you would have them do unto you, your spouse, child, brother, sister, mother, or father.  Before you act, think "how would I like it if someone said or did this to my spouse, child, sibling, or parent?  Would I say or do this if any of them were watching or listening?"

When in doubt, don't say it, don't do it.  Think.  Then make a conscious choice not to take the chance.

4. Harassment Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Your intentions are not important; what matters is how your actions and behaviors impact others.  We must take steps to ensure that our actions and behaviors don't have unintended negative consequences. 

If you are not certain how your behaviors impact others, then ask them.  Ask each of them, since each individual perceives differently.  If certain behaviors are unwanted stop the behavior.  Find a new way to express your message.

5. Use Common Courtesy

And common sense.  When you treat people with decency and genuine respect, you are unlikely to have problems with sexual harassment.

6. To Sum It Up

Create a policy about sexual harassment and support it through fair procedures.  Educate everyone about sexual harassment: what it is, how to avoid it, and what to do if you experience or witness it.  Be fair.  Be firm.  Stress conscious choice, and active awareness.



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SMBC Incorporated contact:

Lou Carloni
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