Creating a safe work environment | Western Cape Government

Creating a safe work environment

Creating a safe work environment

Many practical steps can be taken, as part of an integrated programme, to counter harassment:

1) A clear policy from management

  • Management must develop a clear definition of, and policy on sexual harassment.
  • Concerned people should also help to make the need for such policies known.

2) Awareness of the problem, and of own, and others' rights A back view of a male employee presenting to his colleagues in a boardroom

  • Managers and all employees (male and female) must become aware of the problems inherent in harassment, and must know how to handle it.

If a clear policy exists and is well promoted, both the person being harassed, and the person considering harassing someone, will know what the individual's rights are – what’s acceptable, and what isn’t; also where the person being harassed can lodge a complaint.

3) Complaints and disciplinary procedure

  • There must be clear guidelines on reporting and disciplinary procedures in cases of harassment, and these must be communicated to all staff members.
  • Appropriate staff members can be selected, appointed and trained as complaints officers with authority to institute disciplinary measures when necessary.

In large companies, counsellors can be appointed and trained to provide support and to give advice to staff who are sexually harassed or to counsel harassers if required. These may be the same people as the complaints officers, and could possibly also sensitise and train managers and supervisors in the implementation of the policy.

4) Education

Employers should include the issue of sexual harassment in their orientation, training and education programmes of employees.

5) Confidentiality

Grievances regarding sexual harassment must be handled in a confidential manner in regards to both parties:

  • Only appropriate parties (appropriate management, the aggrieved and their representatives, the alleged perpetrator and their representatives, witnesses and an interpreter if necessary) may be present in disciplinary enquiries.
  • It must be ensured that either party (or their representative) receives necessary information to enable them to prepare for any proceedings outlined by the National Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment.

6) Other supporting measures

  • Confidence training and development of a healthy self-esteem will help employees to deal with harassers.
  • An effective employment equity programme, that ensures well-planned career paths for all - based on merit, while also ensuring that people disadvantaged in the past get a fair deal - will reduce the vulnerability of individuals to harassment by people who abuse their power and authority.
  • A positive corporate culture, in which the rights and dignity of all staff members are respected, and a positive example is set by management, will do much to create a healthy environment in which sexual harassment can’t flourish.
The content on this page was last updated on 12 February 2020