The #MeToo movement has hit the headlines in recent times. Though many high-profile cases came out from media and news industry, sexual-harassment has a long history and is a serious concern worldwide. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 75% of workplace sexual harassment incidents are not reported. A 2018 online survey by a non-profit organisation found that 43% of men and 81% of women in workplace experienced sexual harassment.
In India, a survey conducted on 6047 participants across country by the Indian Bar Association (INBA) shows that a majority of the respondents had experienced sexual harassment of some form at the workplace. Senior leaders are typically associated with harassment, but the survey shows harassment can take place at any level in an organisation. Vendors, supervisors, business partners, junior or mid-level managers are also often offenders.
The study further states that a majority of victims were not even aware of their company’s policies and procedures related to sexual harassment. Close to 66% of respondents said the company’s internal committee turned a blind eye when a harassment incident was reported.
Talented employees inevitably leave the company when sexual harassment is not taken seriously by their company, which possibly may result in significant dent to the company’s reputation.
Employee screening to generate trust
Being proactive is the ideal way to prevent sexual harassment incidents at workplace. With a strong focus on conducting thorough employee background verification, companies can mitigate the risks of hiring a potential offender.
Employees at all levels, including senior managers, CEOs, mid-level or junior level employees need to be screened thoroughly. Employee background verification is the proven way to generate trust within the organisation and protect the reputation of the brand while mitigating legal risks. Many companies are strengthening their sexual harassment policies while pulling up the past records of current employees with the help of employee background verification providers.
While developing a comprehensive written policy on sexual harassment and educating all levels of staff on the policy are crucial, ensuring the policy includes a thorough employee background verification process is critical. Employee background verification that includes reference checks from previous employers and criminal checks by verifying the records from regional, state and national level courts are effective preventative measures.
Few ways to mitigate the risks of hiring a toxic employee
• Constitute a workplace complaints committee: The committee should be well-trained in POSH act mandates and requirements, Vishaka guidelines, relevant state and national legislation
• Conduct ongoing training: Constant training and orientation to all levels of employees on the policy and zero tolerance for harassment ensure maximum awareness.
• Ensure confidentiality: Companies should provide a non-threatening and empathetic environment to the victim to share experiences while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
• Document the complaint and evidence: The victim should be supported to lodge an FIR if he or she wishes to. Documenting every piece of evidence related to the incident and the complaint redressal is critical.
Ensuring the sexual harassment redressal is time-bound and following up on the victim is necessary to prevent retaliation.
How AuthBridge can help with employee background verification
AuthBridge, as a professional employee screening services provider, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, skill and bandwidth to handle all employee verification requirements. The detailed employee background verification includes employment check, education check, reference check, police verification and address verification among many. AuthBridge accesses criminal records from the district, state and national registers, apart from conducting thorough reference from previous organisations.
The comprehensive employee background verification can be conducted on a new employee, as well as an existing one to build trust and give your organisation a safe working environment.