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Slide 14 of 14

I-O psychologists are not lawyers. Their primary role in dealing with sexual harassment is a preventative one. First, they can help organizations develop effective policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment. While this may include formal complaint procedures, I-O psychologists can also help establish intermediate steps (e.g., coaching) that may help resolve problems before they escalate.

Training to address the problem of sexual harassment often begins with a common understanding of what constitutes harassment, from both a legal and psychological standpoint. The cases outlined previously are one type of approach taken to raise awareness of what is and is not sexual harassment.

The next step may involve providing employees with standards of communication that help avoid harassment before it happens. Awareness of the types of language that could be offensive to others is just a first step. Again, the purpose of this training is to raise sensitivity to the feelings and perceptions of others.

Third, training in conflict resolution assists managers when a harassment situation develops. Such training provides skills to address the situation and come to a mutually-accepted resolution (if possible). If a resolution is not possible, this training also outlines the procedures required in the company’s policy on sexual harassment. Use of the appropriate grievance channels is often an issue in sexual harassment litigation.

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