"[B]ake it into company culture."
That is the recipe advanced in a recent New York Times article discussing on-the-job sexual harassment for best eliminating that pernicious evil in the workplace and upping the odds that unlawful treatment and behavior is duly reported when it occurs.
Because if thoroughly ingrained and top-to-bottom rules and policies are lacking, note a number of researchers and company principals, harassment is far more likely to both occur and not be reported by victims.
Here's a startling statistic that emerged from a university-sponsored analysis of myriad studies: no more than one-third of workplace harassment victims ever report the third-party behavior that threatens, demeans and otherwise harms them.
And here's a tandem number: reportedly, a ballpark figure of only about 10% is posited regarding the number of harassment targets who ever file a formal complaint.
The reason they don't is simple.
They're scared, fearing retaliation that threatens future opportunities, up-the-ladder advancement, enduring hostility from select workers, bad performance reviews and other negative outcomes.
Although some victims are men, most continue to be women, which can breed a dysfunctional work environment marked by gender-based discrepancies in job titles, pay and additional matters.
The "baked in" recipe noted above contains numerous ingredients that commentators say collectively serve the interests of both employers and workers.
A truly effective HR department in full step with top management is one key factor to dampen harassment incidents and better ensure that they are reported when they occur.
Designating multiple channels across a company for receiving complaints is also important, as can be hiring an ombudsman and putting in so-called "proportional consequences" that do not automatically result in a firing or lawsuit every time a problematic behavior is confirmed.
Well-considered and comprehensive anti-harassment policies that are paid close attention to by management and routinely followed through on when necessary can go far toward promoting a more healthy business environment.
And that improves the bottom line for both employers and their workers.