The Steps to Change podcast is about enabling people to feel empowered when it comes to handling prevalent issues in the workplace. It is vital for all individuals to feel that their opinion is valued and their voice is heard when they raise concerns or complaints. One of the most common causes of complaint in any given workplace is harassment. Harassment comes in many different forms, although the most common type to be discussed is sexual. However, it’s important to consider all types of harassment.
During this episode, your host Allen Liedkie sits down with Jahnavi Kamath, a Steps director based in India. Jahnavi has been working as a client relationship director for over twelve years, having first started out as an actor. She’s passionate about delivering effective programs that help to make people aware of the types of harassment in the workplace. Here, Jahnavi and Allen discuss what harassment looks like in the workplace and how people can help to reduce instances of harassment amongst colleagues.
It’s first important to understand exactly what harassment is and how it can be interpreted. Harassment is defined as “aggressive pressure or intimidation”, but it can often be more subtle than you might expect. If someone feels as though they are being harassed in the workplace, it can be because of lots of small incidents happening consistently rather than because of one major occurrence. It’s important to recognise that the intensity of harassment can differ while still having a detrimental effect on the receiver.
If harassment becomes a prominent issue in your workplace, it can have a major impact on productivity and the well-being of your employees. If someone is being harassed consistently, they may be pushed to leave the workplace. Such a result is less than ideal, as not only will you lose a valuable employee, but you will also fail to resolve the issue at hand. By remaining proactive and tackling harassment issues as they arise, you’ll be able to cultivate a more comfortable work atmosphere for your staff.
Harassment is a loaded word that can be intimidating for people to confront initially. Of course, people will have different interpretations of what constitutes harassing behaviour, which is why it can be challenging to agree on a common consensus. People who may have been responsible for acts of harassment in the past might be reluctant to acknowledge their wrongdoings, as it makes way for an uncomfortable conversation. It’s vital for people to approach harassment discussions with an open mind.
Another thing to consider when it comes to difficulties concerning harassment discussions is cultural barriers and differences. What might be considered harassing behaviour in one country may be deemed appropriate in another. As such, it can be challenging for people to recognise that their actions are inappropriate in one workplace, whereas they might have been fine in another. Accepting the harassment standards at a new workplace or in a new country is something that some individuals struggle with.
An important thing to remember when it comes to harassment is that a homogeneous culture can develop in some workplaces, with the majority group seeing no problem with harassing behaviours. There are sure to be a handful of people who are uncomfortable with day-to-day harassing behaviours, whereas others might not notice them because they’re so common within the workplace. In these instances, it can be challenging to implement change, but it’s far from impossible.
Through our drama-based learning programs, we hold a mirror up to clients and help them to recognise instances of harassing behaviour. It’s vital for people to see the different types of harassment for themselves so that they can get a clear idea of different types of unacceptable behaviour from a more neutral perspective. Our team explores various types of harassment and acts them out in a manner that’s unique to the client at hand. We cover both small and major forms of harassment.
It’s vital to first point the flashlight at yourself and to recognise instances in which you’ve taken part in some form of harassment. It might be the case that you were unaware that your actions were causing harm, but it’s still essential to recognise past faults. By first acknowledging situations where you could have done better, you can then take steps to improve your workplace behaviour and make yourself an ally to others who are dealing with harassment.
One of the most effective ways of tackling harassment is to speak up when you feel that something isn’t right. Of course, it can be an intimidating prospect to speak up and make a point, especially if you feel that you’re in the minority of opinion. However, in order for issues to be highlighted and changes to be implemented, it’s essential to make your voice heard. By taking a stand yourself, you’ll be opening up the door for colleagues who might then feel more comfortable speaking up about their own issues.
Another way to ensure that all types of harassment are tackled effectively is to recognise every form of harassment and not just get bogged down on specific incidents. If you place all of your focus on tackling sexual harassment, you’re more likely to neglect other harassment issues in the workplace. By keeping an open mind and remaining vigilant, you can ensure that every aspect of harassment is dealt with effectively in your workplace, making it more comfortable for all of your peers.
There is always more to learn about harassment in the workplace and how you can help to make things more comfortable for your colleagues. By taking active steps to learn more about harassment, you can combat harassing behaviour in the workplace and ensure that your peers feel comfortable when it comes to speaking up. By reaching out to the team at Steps, you can find out what type of programs we have in place to help tackle harassment in the workplace.