Irrespective of the place that you work in, your work will require you to interact with people on a regular basis. While some of the people you work with may be superior to you in designation, there will be others working under you. In order to ensure maximum productivity, it is necessary that everyone in the office is given a conducive environment where they can work to the best of their abilities.
However, on a sad note, we do not always see that happening. Often people fall victim to different forms of workplace harassments. Irrespective of the profession you work in or the designation that you hold, you must make conscious efforts to ensure that such a thing does not happen in your presence.
This article talks about the 5 different types of harassments and how you can stop them. Remember allowing harassments to happen in your presence is as bad as doing the harassing yourself.
1. Racial Discrimination
This is where the victim is judged or criticised on the basis of their origin, ancestry, race or skin colour. Passing racial insults, degrading comments, racial slurs and harbouring feelings of disgust and intolerance of differences all fall under this category.
Here the identification and segregation of certain attributes of a particular community (like curly hair, style of clothing and their customs) are amongst the prime causes.
2. Verbal Harassment
Inappropriate behaviour like yelling, insulting, cursing or threatening the victim is all forms of verbal harassment. This may be carried out either in public or in private. Unlike the other types of harassments that are discussed in this list, this form of workplace harassment is not illegal. That is why it often goes unnoticed until the situation is too grave.
3. Gender Harassment
This form of harassment is usually experienced by members of the sex that are in minority in a workplace. Although it is generally the women who are the victims here, we cannot always assume that men are safe from its clutches. A male nurse or kindergarten teacher is often harassed for doing something that is generally perceived as a woman's job.
The same goes for a woman fighter pilot. This type of workplace harassment questions the fundamental Right to Equality that is promised to us by the Indian Constitution.
In the digital world, cyberbullying is a major source of workplace harassment. There have been instances in multiple organisations wherein humiliating content, lies and gossip about the victim have been spread as mass emails, mass chats or posts in social media. All of these come under the jurisdiction of cyberbullying which is a major source of workplace harassments these days.
5. Sexual Harassment
This is the type of harassment that includes unwanted sexual advances and behaviour. This may be initiated by members of either of the sexes upon the other. Inappropriate sexual gestures and touching, passing of sexual comments, jokes and questions all fall under its jurisdiction.
Broadly speaking, invading personal space in any sexual way within the office premises may be said as workplace sexual harassment.
Now having established the 5 major types of workplace harassments, we do realise that the cumulative effect of all of this is a rapid reduction in the productivity of the workforce. In today's highly competitive times that is something we just cannot afford. Thus, the only way out would be to take appropriate measures to curb workplace harassments. Read on to know how you can go about doing it.
The first step of dealing with workplace harassment is to make the victim aware of the fact that they are being harassed. The organisation must send out emails and newsletters to encourage people to come to terms with the fact that they are being harassed and then speak out about the same.
• Anonymous Complaining Platforms
Now having understood that you are being harassed, the next major step is to speak out about the same. It is difficult for the victim to speak up (for often the harassment comes from people who are superior to them in designation). In such a situation, the best way out would be to have an anonymous platform where victims can talk about their concerns without the fear that their identity will come out in the open.
Remember, if one person garners the courage to speak against the wrong that has been done to them, all others who have been subjected to similar states will also muster the courage. Getting that first person to speak up is the most crucial step in preventing and dealing with workplace harassment.
• Faster Action
Once a complaint has been lodged and brought to the notice of the appropriate authorities, there should be no delay in acting on the same. Prompt action on the part of the relevant authorities will make the employees have faith in the system and speak up against whatever wrong is done to them. This will, in turn, pave the way for a workforce that is free from any form of workplace harassment.
• Take Legal Action
There are some kinds of workplace harassments that are more serious than others. There are a number of legal procedures involved with respect to things like cyberbullying and sexual harassments. The victim may choose to opt for legal procedures in order to ensure that justice is served to them. Depending upon the country of residence of the victim and the bully, the legal procedures involved may vary slightly.
• More Effective Human Resource Department
The human resource department must take it upon themselves to come up with innovative company policies that take care of workplace harassments of all types. Training in this regard must then be organised by them. It should be made clear that all employees must mandatorily attend this training and failure to comply with the same can result in disciplinary action taken against them which may well result in termination.