During April, another hashtag, #SAAM, (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) joins #MeToo and #TimesUp to focus awareness on preventing sexual violence and workplace sexual harassment.
Sponsored by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the theme of the 2018 #SAAM campaign is “Embrace Your Voice.” The NSVRC is calling on people to speak out against sexual assault and show support for survivors by wearing a teal ribbon on April 3, a designated day of action.
NSVRC is encouraging organizations to participate in #SAAM and demonstrate their commitment to preventing sexual harassment in a number of ways. Among the suggestions are making a donation to a local sexual assault center, hosting a speaker during lunch and reviewing or implementing a sexual harassment policy and training program.
Break the silence and speak up
For HR teams and managers, #SAAM offers another opportunity to advance or restart conversations about workplace sexual harassment and determine whether your training is up to date and relevant for your workforce, and clearly explains your complaint process and reporting channels.
Speaking up and reporting sexual harassment is one of the most effective ways to prevent future incidents, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a recent press release announcing a lawsuit against a staffing company for allowing a male manager to repeatedly make explicit comments to female employees and demand sexual favors, an EEOC attorney said, “there is one thing every case of sexual harassment has in common – that it can only be stopped when victims and bystanders speak up and break the silence.”
Prior to #MeToo, many employees were afraid to speak up and intervene when they saw someone harassing a colleague. Now, many organizations are expanding their anti-harassment training programs to include bystander intervention training. By teaching employees how to step in and take action to stop the inappropriate behavior of others, bystander intervention training can be a powerful deterrent to workplace harassment.
National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) offers employers an opportunity to reinforce the message that preventing sexual harassment is important to the organization’s culture and everyone’s responsibility. One of the most effective ways to participate is to take a fresh look at your sexual harassment training, policies and procedures. Are they relevant to your employees? Do they reflect a modern work environment? Do they cover timely topics, such as bystander intervention? If not, April is a great month to consider changes and new approaches. For more information and resources about Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at www.nsvrc.org.