It was a busy end to the month and so this summary of our recent HR Club is being posted a little later that we would have liked but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to recap on the event.

It was a great turnout with just under 100 delegates attending to listen to Caitlin Anniss from Narrow Quay HR and Jo Oliver from VWV talking about this topic, which feels particularly poignant and relevant at the moment.

Caitlin provided some really useful context and talked about the fact that even though we have had legislation in place to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace in place for many years, it persists. In some TUC research from 2016, the findings indicated that half of all women and two thirds of women aged between 18 and 24 had experienced harassment at work. Research in 2017 from the CIPD found that 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. She also made the point though that whilst this was an issue predominantly affecting women in the workplace, it did also affect men.

Jo talked us through the legal definitions and conducted some interesting polls in which she provided a set of facts from case law and asked the audience to identify whether sexual harassment had been found to have occurred. Scenarios such a rubbing a colleagues shoulders, playing matchmaker to two work colleagues and making unwanted advance towards a work colleague all got our audience thinking about how to apply the legal framework in practice, albeit some of the case law had provided some surprising results.

Caitlin then talked us through some of the practical steps employers can take to tackle this issue and how to deal with complaints. She explained that whilst having policies in place is essential, employers should, and could, be doing more. Supporting those who speak out, ensuring things are not swept under the carpet when they do occur, providing training to managers who are often an employer’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground and addressing any cultural problems all play an important role in tackling the issue.

We were delighted that 90% of delegates rated this event as either excellent or very good and we look forward to welcoming delegates to our next HR Club in June, which will be looking at employee mental health.

For specialist support with tackling sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938 or Jo Oliver on 07909 547537.