Letter from RALIANCE: Building Safe Online Spaces for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Woman talking to her coworkers on a video call

Hello readers – this week marked the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an annual campaign hosted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) every April. This year’s SAAM theme – Building Safe Online Spaces Together – provides an opportunity to reflect on how to combat sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse in the digital world.

It has become all too common to see cyberbullying, exploitation, sexual harassment and abuse in online spaces. According to NSVRC, 41% of Americans have personally experienced harassing behavior online, and an even larger share (66%) have witnessed these behaviors.

RALIANCE is committed to helping build safe online spaces, especially in the workplace – and we’ve prepared a couple tips for how employers and others can help:

Model consent in digital communications: Remote work has brought the office into people’s homes, making the barrier between work and personal lives more porous. That’s why it’s important for managers to model consent and help employees create boundaries that are comfortable for them. For example, managers can provide employees with options when digitally communicating, like making it clear that it’s acceptable to leave their camera off on a virtual call. 

• Encourage respectful online workspaces and classrooms: The physical office has long-established norms that provide a roadmap for respectful behavior, but the online workplace’s norms are still being developed. Devising community agreements specifically focused on digital communications is a great way for employers to set some rules of the road for respectfully working together online. Setting clear expectations for appropriate conduct helps create a community norm that reduces the risk of harmful behaviors.

Together, we can practice digital consent and promote safe, inclusive and respectful online communities. To get involved this Sexual Assault Awareness Month, consider attending one of these SAAM-specific events or joining online actions like the #30DaysOfSAAM Challenge or #DenimDay on Wednesday, April 27th. You can also make an impact by donating to organizations that work year-round to support survivors and create safer communities, such as your local rape crisis center.

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

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