Guest Author - Dianne Walker
I know when you first saw the title of this article, the first thought was, “Is there really a way to prevent myself from being sexually harassed?” The answer, in all honesty is – no. There are, however, actions you can take to help not to give the appearance that you can easily be swayed into compromising situations.
Dress appropriately. This is not to be sexist and say that woman (and men) can’t wear what they want, but there is also a fine line between professionalism – and not. This isn’t to say you can’t dress attractively, but keep it professional. Low cut blouses or short skirts revealing your inner workings when you bend over, is not professional. Peekaboo body parts are tempting to someone who has the propensity to harass. Dressing professional, even professional business casual is not old-fashion, it’s just best for all those involved.
Taking a developing crush on a peer or your boss to the next level. It’s sometimes hard to keep emotions out of the workplace. You develop a physical attraction or find someone that you have an “instant” connection with. It happens; you’re with these people sometimes seven or eight hours a day. The problem is when you act on those urges in the form of mild flirting or bearing your soul. What happens when you decide it’s over, but they still have feelings? Or worse, they decide it’s over and you’re not ready to end the relationship? This situation is a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. If the relationship means that much to you, quit. Take the relationship out of the workplace. Is it worth leaving (or losing) your job?
Feeling flirty? In a word – don’t. It may be harmless, but even “harmless” has a way of getting out of hand. One day, you may not be in the mood to “play” and the other party may want to. The more you resist, the harder they may want to play. Don’t start flirting and you don’t have to worry about any misunderstandings in the future.
Report it! The best way to prevent sexual harassment is to truthfully report it. While it may not save you from going through the situation, it will save countless others from being subject to the same indignities.
Sexual harassment is not taken lightly, it can cost employees their jobs. If the situation was brought to the attention of company executives who failed to act will be in trouble as well. Protect yourself, or at least do what you can to help prevent sexual harassment.