It was early October 2017 when news broke that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had been accused of sexual harassment by a multitude of women. The weeks and months that followed saw countless women come forward with similar experiences at the hands of the famed producer.
Reports of numerous cash settlements coupled to non-disclosure agreements aimed at silencing victims surface and how a culture of enablement and complicity had protected Weinstein for years came to light. In fact, it was an open secret in Hollywood with little repercussions for the powerful man who was behind some of the movie industry’s most loved films. In short, the Weinstein company’s HR had failed dismally. The company has now filed for bankruptcy.
The scandal ultimately shook the world into what is being called a cultural reckoning on how women are treated not only in the workplace but society at large. With women worldwide relaying their own #metoo stories. From top CEOs to actors and politicians now under scrutiny for their inappropriate behaviour. And this, in turn, has had organisations carefully rethinking their internal policies and procedures when dealing with cases of misconduct and discrimination.
It is in this context that law firm Clyde&Co hosted a seminar Thursday to discuss what constitutes sound HR policy when it comes to issues of misconduct in the workplace.
“If as an employer given your duty to provide a safe workplace to your employees in light of the anti-discrimination ordinance you should have a policy in place and your policy should clearly state the company attitude that it has zero tolerance towards discrimination conduct,” Mun Yeow, a partner at Clyde&Co said in the seminar.
In formulating an anti-harassment policy the equal opportunities commision (EOC) code of practice outlines that the policy should include the following information;
- Employer’s zero tolerance towards sexual harassment
- Objectives of the employer and management
- Legal definition and examples of “sexual harrssment”
- Victims rights and avaialbe actions
- Principles and mechanism of handling complaints
- Time bars for taking action
- Possible disciplinary action
But having a policy is not enough, adds Yeow. You must implement the policy in clear, transparent manner that includes training, distribution and promotion Tips for promoting the policy include;
- Distribute hard copies of the policy to the staff
- Upload the policy to the institution’s intranet/website
- Request staff to sign a declaration of understanding the policy
- Post notices of the policy prominently in the workplace
- Provide continual staff training
- Establish and administer both informal and formal complaints
- Review the policy regularly