Blog by Deanna Tharpe, Executive Director
As the hashtag #metoo trends and more of my friends and colleagues are posting it as their status, I felt disheartened. I also took some time for reflection on my experiences in the workplace as well as in social settings. I hate to say it, but I actually looked up the definition of sexual harassment according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
I won't bore you with the policy language word-for-word but to summarize, it is unlawful to harass a person in a sexual nature of make gender-based offensive remarks. And harassment is ILLEGAL when the frequency creates a hostile workplace.
So, yes, I’ve had comments made that made me feel uncomfortable. I never felt like my job was in jeopardy. I’ve openly spoken about it to other employees and supervisors (if there was anyone above me in that situation). I realize now how that I might be in the minority. However, I have been the subject of sexual (or gender) discrimination. I was once told (outright) that I could not hold a top-level position in a company because (and he chuckled as he said it) “you’re a woman.”
Personally, I hope that all of this attention will empower women (AND MEN) to speak out about sexual harassment and that it’s not something we just “live with” because it happens all the time.
Professionally, I’d like to take a moment to encourage your organization to adopt a harassment policy (if you don’t already have one in place). If you need an example, I think DSAIA’s is very robust and I’m happy to share it outside of S.T.A.C.K.S., our members’ only resource library. One more thing about adopting policies such as these: Make sure your employees, your incoming board members, and your volunteers all are aware of its existence. That doesn’t mean “here’s the list of policies” but rather that you mention these types of policies in particular (such as your Whistleblower Policy) and help them to understand that you back them up with action.
To download the DSAIA Harassment Policy, click here.