Human Resources News & Insights

Facebook invites HR pros to steal its sexual harassment policy

In the wake of surging workplace sexual harassment allegations across all industries, Facebook is taking a drastic step.

The social networking giant and winner of the prestigious, employee-rated Glassdoor “Best Place to Work” title, just announced it will make its own internal sexual harassment policy public for other companies — especially those in the Silicon Valley — to use as a model for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond.

This is notable because companies — particularly giant tech companies — rarely make their internal policies and documents public. So why is Facebook doing this — and what’s so great about their policy? While the company admits its policy isn’t perfect, it is thorough. And Facebook believes making such a policy public would be beneficial to many companies — specifically smaller start-ups, many of which don’t have any formal anti-harassment policies in place.

Policy, training, investigation process & more

Facebook’s policy extends to work-related social and client events, off-site activities and more. It also includes mandatory sexual harassment training for managers and outlines the investigation process Facebook uses to protect employees from adverse consequences for reporting harassment.

One notable clause in the policy says that employees can be fired if they retaliate against a co-worker who makes a harassment claim.

The harassment policy has been posted on the company’s website along with the company’s mandatory training program and documents related to managing bias.

In a joint statement, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and VP of People Lori Goler explained the company’s decision by stating, “Sharing best practices can help us all improve, especially smaller companies that may not have the resources to develop their own policies.”

The joint statement by Sandberg and Goler added:

“There’s no question that this is complicated and challenging to get right. We are by no means perfect, and there will always be bad actors.”

Proven safeguards

As HR Morning has reported, there are certain steps employers can take to prevent harassment in the workplace, including:

  • Adjust power inequalities. Research suggests workplaces at the highest risk for harassment are ones that have more men in leadership roles than women. This can spur an environment where women are preyed upon by their superiors, researchers say. A possible fix for this is to consider putting more women in leadership roles, conveying that women and men are equals.
  • Make it clear harassment will not be tolerated. Leadership should hold all harassers accountable and take swift, appropriate action.
  • Promote civility and respect. Rather than telling employees not to harass one another (which is the focus of a lot of training programs), find ways to encourage them to be respectful.
  • Ensure everyone knows how to report harassment. Make reporting processes clear, and encourage bystanders to take action too.
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