As the national conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace intensifies, it’s time for hospital leaders to take stock of their own hospital’s policies and training resources.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 30 percent of women in medicine experience sexual harassment, while only 4 percent of their male counterparts do. To add insult to injury, more than 50 percent of these women claimed that these experiences negatively affected their careers.
For current RNs, these stats won’t be a surprise — some may even consider sexual harassment an occupational hazard. Indeed, the American Nurses Association stated in a brief that most cases of sexual harassment go unreported. Unfortunately, many nurses could experience sexual harassment from not only their male co-workers but also patients as well.
So, what can hospital executives and nurse managers do to help combat sexual harassment at their facility?
- Encourage a supportive work environment: Hospital leaders should be motivated to prevent sexual harassment since they could be held liable for the actions of not just their employees, but their patients as well. So, creating a respectful work environment isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the responsible thing to do. One way to foster a safe environment is to ensure your sexual harassment training is mandatory for all employees and that everyone knows how to report an incident when necessary. Keep in mind that most employees feel a tremendous sense of loyalty to an employer who prioritizes their safety.
- Enhance your hospital’s sexual harassment training: Already have a sexual harassment policy in place? Good for you! However, you might want to consider this: many experts say it’s unclear how effective sexual harassment prevention training really is. That doesn’t mean your facility should stop its sexual harassment training program altogether. It might be time to reboot your sexual harassment prevention efforts with bystander intervention training instead. According to the EEOC, bystander training can create a collective sense of responsibility among your staff and empower them to help prevent sexual harassment.
- Promote women into more leadership roles: Some experts believe the solution to reducing sexual harassment in the workplace is simply to promote more women into leadership roles. Multiple studies have shown that sexual harassment flourishes where men hold all or almost all the managerial power. In contrast, sexual harassment is less likely to occur when women have equal power in the workplace. So, what can you do to send a positive message to your female staff and potential future leaders? For starters, you could create a mentoring program, provide frequent opportunities for professional development, and promote a healthy work/life balance for working parents.
Have you found other effective ways to reduce sexual harassment at your facility? Let us know in the comments below.