Healthcare in the #MeToo Era: Introducing Sexual Harassment Training

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Only 19 percent of women who are 18 years of age or older haven’t experienced sexual harassment – this means that 81 percent of all women have. The same survey indicated that more than 40 percent of men have also experienced sexual harassment.

More victims have found the courage to come forward instead of repressing incidents out of shame or fear that they won’t be believed. This has contributed to a growing awareness of the crucial need for workplace training to combat sexual harassment.

Lawsuits and criminal charges related to sexual harassment in the workplace have risen in recent years, suggesting that employers may be struggling to tackle an entrenched problem that, until recently, was overlooked. In light of this, employers need solutions to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, and you can now implement programs designed to identify and eliminate this type of inappropriate conduct. Read on for more information.

What constitutes sexual harassment?

One key challenge with addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is the lack of a clear understanding regarding what constitutes sexual harassment. While it may be obvious to most that physically grabbing a person’s backside is not only harassment but assault, there are many things that are said in workplaces every day that also qualify as sexual harassment.

For example, making jokes that contain sexual innuendo is considered harassment. It is also inappropriate to comment on a person’s clothing or body. Even discussing a colleague’s dates or relationships falls within the definition of harassment. In order to effectively eliminate sexual harassment at work, it is crucial that all staff understand what sexual harassment is.

Since society has indulged inappropriate comments, jokes with innuendo, and gossip for decades, sexual harassment is a deeply entrenched behavior for many people. Because of this, they don’t always grasp that their conduct is inappropriate.

This is why tackling sexual harassment begins with educating people about sexual harassment. It is also why eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace is a prolonged process, because the way that many people think needs to be corrected.

How can we start a healthy conversation?

Although most people have heard sexual jokes and remarks in their life, issues related to sex and sexual harassment are not topics that people feel at ease discussing. This is even true in the field of healthcare. In order to begin the process of addressing workplace sexual harassment, a healthcare sexual harassment program can be introduced.

One feature of this type of program is that it provides specific training for both managers and employees. This underscores the fact that there are specific issues related to sexual harassment and those in authority. Managers can look at their conduct to ensure they are not guilty of abuse of authority. They must also set a good example for employees and be prepared to deal with complaints and discipline offenders.

Using videos designed for healthcare environments is particularly important for employees in this field, because healthcare employees may have access to sensitive data about patients and may be treating a patient for issues related to their genitals or sexual activities.

Facilities need a healthcare sexual harassment program

There are a number of facilities that can benefit from instituting a healthcare sexual harassment program, from practices shared by family doctors to dentists’ offices, hospitals, and nursing homes. Medical facilities can help improve workplace morale by ensuring that policies and procedures are in place to protect staff from sexual harassment.

They may also help mitigate their insurance costs and be able to safeguard against potential lawsuits by introducing a sexual harassment program. All medical practices should be vigilant in identifying and addressing issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, because perpetrators who harass colleagues may also extend their harassment to patients, which can affect the facility and all employees.

In fact, research indicates there is a greater risk for individuals with physical disabilities, which means that hospitals and nursing homes may offer easy access to at-risk patients that abusers may target.

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