It is 9.30 am on a Monday morning…..
Your Human Resource Manager comes into your office, with a concerned look on her face. There’s been a report of misconduct at your Christmas Party from last Friday night. The misconduct was of a sexual nature and word has spread.
As a CEO, it’s definitely not the sort of thing you want to start your work week with. Your head starts spinning…..
What happened? Who was involved? How is the victim? What about other’s who may have missed it? Oh no, what happens if the media get’s their hands on this? Or have they already got their hands on it!
Fast forward the clock several hours…..
You have investigated the claim and found that it is correct, one of your employees has sexually harassed another employee. Everyone in your organisation knows about what happened. Several clients have also found out.
Now fast forward the clock 24 hours…..
It’s on the front page of the paper! Yes, it all happens that quickly….. So too does the mediation, legal proceedings and potential court case that follows…….
No responsible CEO would want a breach in safety, invasion of privacy or workplace incident such as bullying, harassment or discrimination to happen in their workplace!
But unfortunately, workplace incidents can and will happen. Even though you want your people to ‘do the right thing’ and contribute to a workplace where people are safe and treated fairly and with respect, in today’s business environment, we can no longer be certain about common decency….
And when an incident plays out, if you have not been meeting your legal obligations of delivering education and having workplace policies in place for things such as bullying, harassment and discrimination, you will be left exposed.
You will also be left asking, why did I not have these things in place, to start with!
The best risk mitigation when it comes to workplace incidents such as bullying, harassment and discrimination is to begin with the end in mind – the ‘Your Honour Test’
If there was an incident in your workplace and it ended up in court, can you hand on heart say that you have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that you have educated your people on workplace relations and safety matters?
Can you also hand on heart say that you have policies and procedures in place to guide people in the event of an incident?
The best organisations have considered the ‘Your Honour Test’ and put a reliable workplace compliance system in place to help them ‘do the right thing’ and protect their business against the ever increasing costs of breaches in safety, invasion of privacy and workplace incidents such as bullying, harassment and discrimination.
It’s quite straight forward in hindsight. Did I train my staff? Did I have policies in place? Did my managers/supervisors follow the procedures outlined in the policies, in the case of the incident?
These are the types of questions that you will be asked in a worse cases scenario….. And of course, if you have them in place to start with, chances are you may not be dealing reactively to an incident in the first place.