In advance of issuing revised sexual harassment guidelines — the first revision in two decades — the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a report by its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace detailing five principles that have generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment.
Called ‘Promising Practices,” the five principles are:
- Committed and engaged leadership
- Consistent and demonstrated accountability
- Strong and comprehensive harassment policies
- Trusted and accessible complaint procedures
- Regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization
The report includes checklists based on these principles to assist employers in preventing and responding to workplace harassment. The promising practices identified in this document are based primarily on these checklists. Although these practices are not legal requirements under federal employment discrimination laws, they may enhance employers’ compliance efforts.
The report notes:
When evaluating the effectiveness of harassment prevention and correction strategies, it may be helpful for organizations to carefully analyze complaint trends. A relatively high number of internal complaints may signify that harassment has occurred or was perceived to have occurred, but may also indicate employees’ awareness of and confidence in the internal complaint process. A relatively low number of internal complaints may result from employees’ lack of awareness or trust in the complaint process, or, alternatively, from the absence of harassing conduct in the organization. Organizations may find it helpful to solicit information from employees in anonymous surveys, harassment training sessions, or other settings in which employees may feel comfortable, regarding their awareness of and confidence in the organization’s harassment policies and complaint procedures. Organizations could also solicit suggestions from employees about how to enhance employees’ knowledge of and faith in the organization’s harassment prevention and correction efforts.