Sexual-harassment at Workplace is not a new term. It has a long history and is quite a serious concern for social activists and HR managers worldwide. Many cases of sexual harassments went obscure either due to power pressure or due to lack of support for fighting. But with the #MeToo movement hitting the headline recently, many high-profile cases of sexual-harassment were focused by media and news industry. According to a study by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 75% of workplace sexual harassment cases are not even reported. An online survey conducted in 2018 by a non-profit organization revealed that on average 81% women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Indian Bar Association (INBA) conducted a survey on 6047 members across India shows that a major part of the respondents has experienced instances of sexual harassment in some or other format the workplace. Though there is a common notion that senior position is characteristically associated with harassment at the workplace, the survey shows that harassment can take place at any level in an organization. Even vendors, business partners, supervisors, junior or mid-level managers have also been identified as offenders.
The referred study moreover reveals that many of the victims are not even aware of the organizational policies that are related to sexual harassment. The survey also reveals that 66% of victims have complained that the company’s internal committee turned a blind eye when a sexual harassment case was reported by them. On instances of sexual harassment are not taken seriously, talented employees prefer leaving the company, which will definitely result in a negative impression of the organization’s reputation.
Here are five most suggested approaches recruiters may consider for preventing cases of sexual harassment right from the time of recruitment with the help of background screening.
1. Include Employee referrals can as an assessment step
If you allow candidates to submit names of individuals with whom they have formally interacted with or directly worked with, you are basically removing a chance of employing a toxic-employee. This is because, in reference to their past interactions, the referring employee can at least attest the fact that there is a high or low probability that the candidate can prove to be a harasser or harmful employee. However one can also tamper with the referrals which you can reduce by making the interviewee aware that they will be held responsible for the kind of the referrals they are giving, for there will be a background check that labels employees who have made a toxic referral.
2. Identifying a harasser during the peer interview
This is yet another important step because the fellow team members will be the ones who will suffer the most if a bad hire is made. An interview with the team members can also help to screen the candidates if they have the probability of being hazardous. The process of peer interview in recent times is the most effective in the opinion of the employees who can look for pre-identified signs that reveal if the candidate has the probability of being a harasser creating nuisance in the workplace.
3. Criminal background checks
One of the easiest ways to determine the probability of the candidates being hazardous is through a criminal background check. If a candidate has a past of sexual harassment which took the form of sexual assault, such case will surely appear in criminal records. Background verification companies can also trace non-sealed public records of civil harassment cases if the individual has been involved in any of them.
4. Ask them situational questions that might reveal toxic behaviors
There is a chance that candidates reveal a history of sexual harassment if they have any while answering traditional past behavioral questions. A more clarified result can be expected if you ask them how they would handle a sexual harassment issue specific to the current employment scenario. Situational questions in every way produce better results. You can also ask them questions like “In a situation where you yourself were actually witnessing sexual harassment, what would you do?” try to look for any hidden expression in their answers like not reporting the incident or playing safe. You can also ask them some questions as to how they will handle a situation of workplace conflicts, harassment, and what steps they will take to resolve it. You can also ask them if they have difficulty in working with some specific types of employees in their new job and how would they handle such a situation.
5. Use existing personality and behavioral tests
Though this assessment does not directly identify harassers, there are a number of lateral behavioral and psychological tests that have already been administered that might shed some light on how a prospective candidate must behave and treats their fellow employees. Although some of these tests have not been legalized, they are surely helpful in revealing any toxic behavior. These tests typically encompass courteousness, integrity, emotional intelligence, values assessment, character, attitude, morality, conscientiousness, and ethics of the candidate. However, if you decide to use any of these behavioral and psychological tests first make sure that you are assessing the results in light of the bad behaviors on the job. It is difficult to assess a potential harmful employee just by judging their body language, voice inflection, and cultural fitness assessments during the short interview process.
Screening Employees to Generate Trust
Being practical is the best way to prevent any kind of sexual harassment instances in the workplace. With a strong emphasis on conducting comprehensive employee background verification, a company can prevent the risks of hiring a potential offender.
Recruitment for any position including the senior managers, CEOs, associates or even junior level employees need to be screened thoroughly. Employee background verification is the most proven way that generates trust within the organization and protects the reputation of the employer brand and ay the same time mitigating any kind of legal risks. Companies are hence strengthening their policies of sexual harassment by pulling up the past records of current employees with the help of employee background verification service providers.
In the process of developing a comprehensive and well-documented policy on sexual harassment and educating the entire staff on the policy is very important. As a recruiter, you must also ensure that the policy includes a thorough employee background verification process.
cFIRST Think Tank is the team that researches and produces content for cFirst. This team comprises of seasoned content and digital design professionals and background screening industry veterans. Together we produce insightful blogs, infographics and reports meant for HR and background screening professionals.