Beware the wolf in the workplace

HRM 27 Nov 2012

A research study revealed that more than half of 500 people randomly surveyed had experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. 

According to the latest report by women’s rights group AWARE, Singapore falls short of the world’s top business cities in one important aspect: effective anti-sexual harassment legislation.

The report showed that the current law which deals with sexual harassment is inadequate as non-physical harassment is treated as non-seizable offences under the criminal law. This means that if women in the workplace are being on the receiving end of lewd comments by their colleagues or bosses, the police will not have the power to arrest the offender and persecute the case.

In addition, most companies are not equipped to deal with workplace sexual harassment. The Ministry of Manpower and Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) lack the authority to do so. Most companies also do not have any sexual harassment policies or procedures in place. This is most likely because there is currently no statutory obligation for employers to do so.

For HR professionals, it is imperative that actions are taken to pre-empt such behaviour in the workplace by instituting office policies and rules that clearly communicate that sexual harassment is not tolerated. This is especially pertinent for male-dominated professions. For companies to attract diverse talents, it is key that HR takes this crucial first step.

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