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In October of 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded in the media, and inspired upwards of 12 million men and women to share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment. This viral phenomenon has created a surge of awareness surrounding issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, and rightly so. In the wake of #MeToo, high-profile sexual harassment cases have emerged from a wide variety of industries, ranging from Hollywood and sports to politics and the restaurant business—not to mention corporate scandals.

As employees raised their voices around the country this year, it became clear that no industry had proven itself free of sexual harassment violations. That is why more than half of companies have felt a need to review their sexual harassment policies since October of 2017. When considering how your company can create a harassment-free environment, reviewing established sexual harassment policies is a great place to start.


When reviewing a policy, it is important to ensure that all employees who read it will gain a clear understanding of what is meant by “sexual harassment”. Some behaviors are blatantly inappropriate, while others are more nuanced. So, be sure to paint a clear picture and offer subtle examples along with more obvious ones.  The more readily employees can identify sexual harassment, the more quickly it can be properly addressed.

Next Steps

Your policy should clearly outline the “next steps” for any employee who may be the recipient of unseemly behavior. Employees who are confused about the reporting process may be subject to more harassment before they’re able to file a complaint. And the longer harassing behavior continues, the more hostile the work environment becomes. Creating a clear path for reporting such instances ensures that shaken employees aren’t left to wonder what to do next. Make a straightforward protocol that details whom employees should report their claims to and what to expect once a report is filed.

Ready to Act

Your policy should create avenues for HR representatives to act decisively once a complaint is filed. Prepare responses for different kinds of complaints with the help of a lawyer, so that your company is equipped to handle diverse situations. It is HR’s job to put out sparks in the workplace before a fire breaks out, so be sure they can respond with clarity and confidence to whatever comes their way.


Preventing sexual harassment is connected to your company’s plan to respond to it. If your employees clearly understand the hard-and-fast consequences that will result from unsuitable behavior, potential offenders will be less likely to act. Make a zero-tolerance policy clear from the get-go by outlining specific potential outcomes for violators.

Beyond Policy

Strengthening your company’s sexual harassment policy will contribute to a safer environment for all. But, you don’t have to stop there. Consider holding sexual harassment training sessions for employees of all ranks. If you opt for this approach, hiring an outside professional who can lead, teach, and field questions is strongly recommended.