Workplace misconduct: Steps for preventing sexual harassment

A swift response can mitigate reputational damage, but forceful, clear employee communication that heads off bad behavior is a better approach for all concerned.

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More than 40 men have recently been fired or forced to resign after accusations of improper conduct. The trend of exposing abusers shows no sign of slowing, so PR teams should be prepared to respond when a client or company leader is named and shamed.

First, a refresher on what constitutes harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The victim could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

A new face for PR crisis management

The wave of harassment allegations has given a new face to PR crisis management, says Andrew Blum, principal of AJB Communications. Many accused of misconduct have been fired or forced out almost immediately after allegations surfaced, leaving PR professionals with few options other than long-term reputation repair.

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