We all like to think that every one of our employees or co-workers is guided by a strong moral compass and is conducting themselves accordingly. In some instances, we might even imagine that a little office banter with sexual undertones is harmless, but the reality is that when no clear line is drawn on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, a slippery slope is often established in its place.
Sexual misconduct of any kind can lead to pervasive distress, loss of productivity, and ultimately loss of talent—as a toxic working environment leads precious innovators to look for healthier work environments elsewhere. Employers should also recognize that receiving one sexual harassment complaint may mean gaining oversight on what is ultimately only the tip of the iceberg.
The reality is that while 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, 58% of those who were harassed at work don’t file a complaint for fear of factors such as retaliation or disbelief. According to data gathered confidentially by Stop Street Harassment, as many of 43% of men have also experienced some sort of sexual harassment—so there’s no escaping that this is a problem that can impact anyone, and is ultimately one that we often don’t get a true sense of.
When it comes to receiving a formal complaint and gearing up ahead of investigating sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the workplace, there’s a lot to navigate. On behalf of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, responsibility in regard to physical and mental health, privacy, and legal rights all land in the hand of the employer. Meanwhile, for the organization itself, risk of retaliation, liability, and reputational damage hang in the balance. That makes what happens next something that must ready to stand up to scrutiny.
Turn to Corporate Investigations Services When Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
With so much at stake, investigating sexual harassment or misconduct means building a case that cannot be left open to any perception of bias. If a complaint should evolve towards litigation, an employer’s failure to fully undertake and document an impartial corporate investigation, or it’s failure to act decisively upon any complaint received may well end in liability. Information gathered might later become admissible in court proceedings, while a poorly judged step may damage the credibility of evidence. This makes turning to an external investigator the best way to safeguard the interests of both the organization and the individuals involved.
Hiring a private investigator with a proven track record for corporate investigations of this nature also means lifting the emotional burden of investigating a colleague—under what may be distressing circumstances—from your HR or leadership team. A professional who is seasoned at investigating sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace will not only be adept at discreetly and efficiently gathering the information necessary, but they will also be able to advise on every investigatory and reporting step from a legal standpoint, guaranteeing due process and exemplary action along the way.
The Opportunity to Be an Industry Leader in the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
While the occurrence of a sexual misconduct complaint may well leave any organization anxious about what lies ahead, choosing to step ahead of this issue is an action that can only be rewarded. Since the #metoo movement arrived, attitudes towards sexual harassment in the workplace have evolved, with 99% of employees successfully recognizing sexual harassment situations, and the vast majority supporting the fight against this type of workplace misconduct.
While this new era has created an environment in which many feel more able to speak up, statistics tell us that it is also in fact driving down incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, with EEOC actually reporting a drop from 2020 to 2021. This tells us that setting clear policies and demonstrating a safe environment for employees is a worthy pursuit. Of course, this is a transformation still in its inception—HRAcuity reports that only 15% of companies are on the case. Are you ready to establish your brand as one who lives by values that everyone can believe in?
Alongside outlining clear and easily understood company policies and delivering training across every employee tear, organizations are increasingly turning to corporate culture audits as a health-check for issues ranging from sexual harassment to discrimination, and even corporate theft and white collar crime.
Taking this proactive step means getting ahead of problems before they manifest into costly or damaging incidents that warrant corporate investigations, litigation, or substantial losses. Better yet, it means forging and sustaining a thriving workplace environment in which employees can grow, flourish, and drive the bottom line. If you’d like to learn more about corporate investigation services in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace—or the phenomenal results that corporate culture audits can yield—the team at Lauth Investigations are ready to take your call.