5 Steps Mediation Can Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in the #MeToo Era

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the USA, the #MeToo movement got the attention of women around the world. Women started notifying their experiences of sexual harassment on Twitter. 

Vietnam also faced the impact and published the policy guidelines for companies under the management of the International Labor Organization (I.L.O) for reporting and addressing sexual harassment issues in the workplace. In the guideline, sexual harassment is defined as “an inappropriate act of sexual nature which attacks the dignity of men and women by producing offensive (offensive what?) in the working environment.”

The Guardian newspaper published a report oApril 2019 by using the study of Care International and Fair Wear Foundation, which says that among half of the working women in Vietnam nearly one out of three has claimed to have suffered because of sexual harassment in factories located in three provinces. 

An article in VN Express, ‘Blame the victim culture weakens #MeToo in Vietnam,’ reported the incident of police investigation on sexual harassment, where the culprit only got the punishment of paying fine of VND200, 000. The victim was not satisfied with this penalty and was quoted as saying that it as a gesture to support culprits instead of victims by discouraging them during sexual harassment investigations. Today, offenders in Vietnam are only obligated to pay VND100, 000 to 300,000 penalties for workplace harassment. 

1) Revise Your company Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment policies

The first step to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace is to revise the company code of conduct policy according to updated labor laws. New policies should be introduced to inform workers about the reporting procedure of sexual harassment. The names of people of respected authority should be stated to inform the victims to whom they can connect. It will support the practice of reporting of incident in a comfortable environment. Every company should define itssexual harassment policy under the consideration of company culture by using understandable textual support. It should be included in employee handbook to create ease in assessment and understanding for workers. 

2) Execute anti-harassment and conflict coaching training for all staff

The companies can save costs by moving from a Rights-based approach to Interests-based approach in producing a win-win situation through effective resolution setup. The training of staff should be done not only related to ILO but also with personal conflict management coaching to handle real-life problems at workplace. HR can help by designing a setup whereemployees can be trained from the beginning of their careers about acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors. 

3) Implement an Online System to Report and Monitor Harassment

Online systems for reporting and monitoring sexual harassment incidents at the workplace will help employees to speak up about their painful experiences without fear of getting nominated. There are, at least, three ways to implement this practice for the benefits of employees. The complain form can be generated and modified according to company policies and working culture. 

Employee Exit Survey:

It will help the employees to give feedback on the company’s culture, which they are leaving because of some reason. Employee and supervisor should complete itr. The employee will able to provide answer more appropriately about their jobs and employers. 

Incident Report Form:

It includes proper documentation of an incident in the company, which will help in reporting the unfortunate happenings to rescue other employees in the future. It will support keeping the detail record of sexual harassment cases in the companies. 

Workplace Harassment Form:

This form is helpful in creating awareness among employees and members of human resource department about types of workplace harassment, and reporting methods along with penalties. 

Apart from all these forms, the manager should try to console the victims by allowing them and listening to their complains about workplace harassment. 

4. Create a Customized Automatic Dispute Resolution System Process

To resolve the conflicts in-house, the dispute resolution system can provide essential help. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system will help to handle manageable conflicts before their landing in courts. Six significant steps included in this ADR system are:

  1. By checking the compatibility of the program with organization’s goals.
  2. Identifying major stakeholders to insert dispute resolution setup
  3. Researching all the major types of dispute-resolution programs to finding the most appropriate method to support the vision of the company. It can also include outside mediation or peer review involvement. 
  4. By designing the appropriate program for company, which is suitable through creating cross-functional teams at HR level. 
  5. By getting Feedback from employees after designing a customized program by using surveys, team meetings, interviews, virtual meetings ad, androundtable talks. These methods will help you handle concerns of end-users. 
  6. Designing an effective communication plan and project delivery strategy. You can decide whether you want to run a pilot program or move towards the widescale launch in the company. 

5. Explore and Implement Flexible HR-Tech: Online Dispute Resolution for HR

When selecting an HR Technology for receiving, managing, and tracking workplace issues, it is most important to think about:

  1. Information accessibility,
  2. Ease of reporting,
  3. Reporter privacy and protection
  4. Managed inclusion of all relevant team members, 
  5. Auditability, and
  6. Flexibility during resolution. 

When reports are made to the wrong authorities, or when the alleged perpetrator can be inappropriately informed or involved in a case, many risks emerge for both the company and its employees. These risks multiply in a digital world where data can flow more quickly and be retained more easily than it ever could on paper. Those picking an appropriate technology to support their ADR process should ask whether the platform can:

  1. Be accessed through any computer or smart device, 
  2. Let employees read all relevant workplace contracts, policies, or manuals,
  3. Understand issues that do not neatly fall into one specific classification,
  4. Securely report an incident to the appropriate authority
  5. Manage asynchronous collaboration during issue resolution
  6. Export an audit trail that is defensible if brought to any government agency or court

A customized dispute resolution system complimented with the right technology and training for implementing any ADR solution is often as important as the process itself. Many workplace issues do not fit into simple boxes, so using systems that stifle employee engagement by being overly specific or inflexible can derail any great program before it gets going. 

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