- Posted by Shaka
I had a call from a company who had a workplace problem that they had been mishandling. They rang me for advice.
Here’s what had happened.
A complaint had been made about one of their male senior managers from 2 young, female staff. The complaint was that he made inappropriate sexual remarks and had been doing so for a long period of time. The comments were along the lines of when one of the young women dropped something and bent down to pick it up, if he was standing nearby he would say, “while you’re down there…” alluding to oral sex.
The young women complained directly to the owner of the company and specifically said they did not want the manager to know that they had made a complaint against him for fear of retribution but they wanted the behaviour to stop. The owner said that he would honour their anonymity and talk with the manager.
The owner left it a month or so and decided to address the problem during the manager’s performance review. In the meeting the owner told him that complaints had been made against him of a sexual nature and that this behaviour was not appropriate and that he would book him in for some counselling to address his behaviour and so that it would not occur in the future. The manager asked who had made the complaint and he said he couldn’t tell him.
The owner also disclosed to me that he was aware of previous issues involving the same manager and his sexualised behaviour but had not done anything about it.
In managing this complaint the owner made at least six serious mistakes that would have opened him up to legal action from the female complainants and the male manager.
The owner had never trained himself or his staff in relation to workplace behaviours. If he had then perhaps the senior male manager would have known that his sexual comments were not funny and in fact were unlawful and the owner would have known that he couldn’t keep the identity of the young female staff anonymous.
Education is a key requirement for Employers when it comes to minimising inappropriate behaviours from occurring and also minimising their own liability in relation to their employee’s inappropriate behaviours. Zulu Labs, in conjunction with a lawyer have created a range of on-line modules to educate employees and managers in relation to workplace behaviours and how to manage them effectively.