April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) – while any time of the year is important to promote equity and prevent sexual assault in the workplace, this month provides a convenient, national opportunity for engagement. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), pioneers of SAAM, have developed a list of resources and strategies that employers can use to begin broaching equity implementation and sexual violence prevention in the workplace.
What Can Employers Do to Prevent Sexual Violence?
–Increase employee awareness of sexual harassment and misconduct through educational trainings. Frequent training sessions among staff reinforces that the employer takes the issue seriously. These trainings also help employees understand what constitutes as sexual misconduct.
-Convey to your employees that, if they speak out, they are free from retaliation from their colleagues or the business at large. Many survivors and bystanders hesitate to speak out for fear of retribution. When everyone knows that their speech is protected, potential perpetrators may be less likely to act knowing their colleagues would feel free to report their misbehavior. If there are not policies currently in place to ensure this, create them and provide supervisory staff with guidelines to ensure these policies are implemented equitably.
-Encourage your employees to be active bystanders through bystander training sessions. When employees are empowered to help create an environment where every person is treated with respect and educated how to effectively prevent or interrupt forms of sexual misconduct, fewer of these incidents are likely to occur.
Ways to Approach Racial Equity at Work
-Ask for employee input about making workplaces more inclusive for their respective communities. Invest in organization-wide training by trainers who are experts in anti-racism and organizational change. This is the best way to close gaps in cultural knowledge while also making employees of all races feel that their words have value.
-Ensure your hiring practices emphasize diverse recruitment. Employees of color often encounter additional barriers, such as name discrimination, so it is important for employers to be proactive in making sure that hiring processes are equitable and free from bias.
-Encourage your Human Resources department to advance their cultural competency in the wake of potential sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct can be motivated by gender and race. This can include sexually explicit comments about the victim’s race and gender. It is important for the Human Resources department to take an intersectional perspective when processing these reports to ensure all potential harassment behaviors are included. If your workplace does not have a Human Resources department, the responsibility of cultural competency should fall on the managers, supervisor(s), or leadership that typically process these reports.
-Ensure pay equity is an organization-wide standard. Members of racial minorities and women often see a discrepancy in pay between themselves and their White, male counterparts for the same or similar work. Organizations can conduct regular Pay Equity Audits to ensure all employees are paid fairly.
At RALIANCE, we believe every space should be a safe space—including the workplace. We recognize it will take some time, much longer than the month of April. The above resources and strategies and an additional one, How to Create a Trauma Informed Workplace, can help get you started.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.