In the first of a new series of blogs, we look at sexual harassment in the workplace and how lone workers can be affected.
Sexual harassment has become a global talking point in the last year, with allegations coming to light in Hollywood and the revolutionary start of the #metoo movement. But sexual harassment doesn’t only take place on casting couches and in hotel rooms. The threat of sexual intimidation and assault can happen in any workplace and lone workers are often the ones most at risk: from someone doing late overtime in the office to the caregiver working in someone’s home, to a restaurant manager or bar staff dealing with large groups of people. Sexual harassment can happen at any time, in any place, to anyone and can range from unwanted comments to intimidating behaviour to acts of sexual violence.
89% of workers in hospitality sector have been sexually harassed
Even in light of recent events, many workplaces still have a long way to go. A 2017 survey commissioned by the BBC revealed that a shocking 50% of women and one-fifth of the men questioned, said they had been sexually harassed at work. 63% of those women and 79% of men said they didn't report it to anyone. Preliminary research gathered from workers in the hospitality industry found that 89% said they had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment in their working life. Another recent poll by Opinion Research revealed that of those who had reported a sexual harassment incident at work, 12% said the incident was not even acknowledged by their company, 31% of respondents said the incident was acknowledged but no action taken was taken and three in 10 people said that the offender was given a warning but allowed to remain in the workplace.
Policies for safeguarding are essential
Unsurprisingly there can be serious repercussions. Victims can end up on extended sick leave because of fear and stress, or even be forced to leave their job and look for other employment. For those who do report the incident, there is the awareness that police charges could be brought against a colleague. Put bluntly, no company or organisation wants to be known for being an unsafe place for staff to work, or somewhere that doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously. The recent scrutiny means that it is vital that employers have both strict policies and the best safeguarding processes to make sure all workers, especially lone ones, are protected and supported.
Safe Hub is a virtual buddy, support system and lifeline all rolled into one. Its award-winning package of emergency, buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier provide protection for lone and remote workers who might be vulnerable to sexual harassment. Its revolutionary SOS button triggers a Red Alert to the emergency services, providing instant support and backup, while the Safe Check periodic welfare ‘checking in’ system is directly managed by the lone worker. It is compatible on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices such as Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones; as well as BlackBerrys, standard mobiles and PCs.
Culture has to change
Changing attitudes and industry cultures are also essential. More than a quarter of people who responded to one survey had suffered harassment in the form of inappropriate jokes or "banter" and nearly one in seven had suffered inappropriate touching. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure best practice: training managers to ‘actively listen’ and take the appropriate action to sexual harassment complaints, developing corporate policy against harassment that reflects lone working practices and staff experiences, strict guidelines on what is acceptable behaviour and teaching workers on how to deal with inappropriate behaviour and supporting fellow colleagues. We all need to stand up and say no to sexual harassment at work. Putting the right measures in place to safeguard your workforce is the first important step.
Unite survey: #MeToo – Sexual Harassment in Hospitality.
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.
About Lone Worker Solutions
At Lone Worker Solutions, it’s our business to protect employees, managers and shareholders from the risks associated with working alone. This includes the potential hazards faced by staff who work by themselves, remotely, or out-of-sight or earshot of colleagues. When it comes to safety we don't believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; instead, we tailor our solution to each organisation's exact needs. Safe Hub is an award-winning package of emergency, buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices, including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerrys, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.