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The real cost of sexual harassment

As a professional in the workplace, you are faced with the awful reality of having a one in three chance of experiencing sexual harassment as a female, and a one in five chance as a male.

Through recent movements, like #metoo, and the takedown of powerful celebrities, politicians, and journalists, this difficult topic is finally being brought to the forefront of conversations nationwide.

While the media has portrayed sexual harassment at large over the past year, have you ever stopped to think about how this relates to you specifically? If a case of sexual harassment happened at your place of work, would you know how to handle it?

Let’s take a look at a scenario that can happen at a housing organization.

Amy is an employee at a housing organization, and Rodney is a contractor who works daily as an onsite property manager. They are both avid sports fans and have frequent conversations about work projects and their common interest in sports. Rodney begins to send Amy daily calls and texts, asking her to join him for the playoff game. Amy did not express an interest in furthering their relationship outside of work, and the ongoing calls and texts made her feel very uncomfortable.

This scenario depicts an example of harassment, resulting in a hostile work environment. If such behavior goes ignored, this type of environment can lead to increased absences and stress among your employees, and consequently, a decrease in productivity.

How would you handle this situation if you were Amy, and you do not wish to have a personal relationship with Rodney outside of the workplace? Here are three steps you should take:

  1. Speak directly to the perpetrator – Take immediate action of the situation by meeting face-to-face with the perpetrator. Do not ignore the situation – this may allow things to escalate.
  2. Discuss your feelings – Keep your cool as you let the individual know that you value your working relationship, and that is all. Explain that their behavior is making you feel uncomfortable, and to please stop.
  3. Meet with Human Resources – If you are still uncomfortable after speaking with the individual, schedule a meeting with Human Resources to discuss the situation and possible solutions. It is your right to feel comfortable in your workplace.

While you may not be able to control whether or not these situations happen at your place of work, what you can control is how you respond to them and take action to prevent them from reoccurring. If you would like to learn more about how to handle various forms of sexual harassment in the workplace, click here to watch HAI Group’s simulated scenario.

HAI Group is a trusted partner, recognized for our experience and exceptional service. While we’re known for pioneering public and affordable housing insurance programs, insurance is not our only strength. For more than 30 years, we’ve evolved with the housing industry and emerged as a leading provider of insurance, risk management, training, capital, research, and advocacy solutions tailor-made for housing.