Addressing Sexual Harassment with Company ASH Policy

by PNG Business News - July 15, 2021

Photo: Nambawan Supa Limited, Cardno, IEA, Pacific Towing are amongst 18 BCFW member organizations who are implementing the ASH Policy to ensure safe workplaces.

Sexual Harassment is a problem not just for employEES but also for employERS. Did you know that there are real and significant business costs associated with Sexual Harassment? Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Business Case for Addressing Sexual Harassment

In addition to the moral imperative for addressing Sexual Harassment there is also a strong business case.  Adverse Results may include:

  • High levels of stress and demotivation among employees
  • Reduced productivity
  • Compromised teamwork Increased absenteeism
  • And in some cases, higher turnover-Company perspective – limits access to a diverse talent pool if potential applicants fear harassment.

There are Increased Costs associated with the above negative impacts.  Although it is difficult to quantify how much money PNG businesses are losing every year due to Sexual Harassment, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research www.iwpr.org  has compiled some interesting studies on the cost to American businesses – across multiple sectors it’s in the HUNDREDS of MILLIONS - $US!!!

High Risk Employment Situations

Is your workplace associated with any of the following high-risk factors?  If yes, your employees are at greater risk of experiencing Sexual Harassment.

  • Working remotely or in an isolated context: 
  • Working in a male-dominated job: 
  • Working for tips:  Workers who rely on tips as part of their income (e.g., accommodation and food service workers).

Let’s Focus on Solutions

The Business Coalition for Women is a ‘solutions focussed’ organisation.  We have PNG-nuanced resources available to help our member businesses PREVENT and RESPOND to Sexual Harassment.  These resources include:

  • A best practice model Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Training and consultation services to help tailor our Sexual Harassment Policy to the unique characteristics of individual businesses
  • Anti-Sexual Harassment Training (specifically designed for HR/OHS professionals)
  • Sexual Harassment information and awareness sessions and workshops
  • FREE one-hour education sessions for staff on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and or Family & Sexual Violence and the Workplace (for new members)

PNG Corporate Sector’s Response

The response and leadership demonstrated by PNG businesses like Bank South Pacific, nasfund, Hastings Deering and others are significant. These businesses are implementing the Anti-Sexual Harassment and other best practice workplace policies to ensure safe workplaces for all.

“BSP recognizes the pervasiveness and severity of family and sexual violence and sexual harassment impacting the workplace. As a responsible employer, we are compelled to invest in appropriate resources and initiatives which have been developed specifically for the business community” said BSP Group CEO Robin Fleming.

"Often people do not understand as to what behaviour constitutes sexual harassment. Having a distinct policy in place which defines sexual harassment and clearly articulates unacceptable behaviour and its consequences is the key to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. It helps to improve the team morale as staff feel protected. In the long run it contributes to the positive corporate culture of the organization" Seema Dass-Raju- Chief Risk & Compliance Officer, nasfund.

Sexual Harassment Policy – Crucial First Steps

Your first line of defence (and a crucial first step in preventing Sexual Harassment in your workplace) is a Sexual Harassment Policy (sometimes referred to as an ANTI Sexual Harassment Policy).A strong Sexual Harassment policy can transform employee relations and office culture from toxic and harmful to rewarding and beneficial. A policy reflects a firm stance against Sexual Harassment.  For those organisations that do not have such a policy, we hope that you will be inspired to take action and implement one.  Please contact the Business Coalition for Women on: communictaions@pngbcfw.org for more information.


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