Harassment in the workplace is illegal, yet countless women suffer some form of abuse on the job. Many of them don’t know what to do and simply put up with it for years.
According to a 2018 study by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 23% of female employees reported being harassed at work in the past 12 months.
In order for this to change, it is up to employers to create a safe workplace for their women employees and this can only be achieved by rigorous pre-employment screening checks.
Can background checks prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?
This is actually the most important tool Australian employers have at their disposal. If you implement all-around national police checks you get the certainty that none of your employees was ever convicted of a sexual offence. You’re not bringing a sexual predator in the organisation and letting him loose to torment your female employees, or your customers and business partners for that matter.
And there’s really no excuse for not updating your hiring policy since ordering background checks on someone has never been easier in Australia. You can look up online character check agencies in Australia and start a business account for background checks. This brings background checks just a few clicks away. The procedure is very straightforward and in no time at all you can order a background check on a job applicant. The result comes back in a couple of days, delivered straight to your email.
Should anyone question your policy you can explain you’re only doing this to keep your staff safe and it’s nothing personal.
What other pre-employment screening tools can you use?
Doing a background check on someone only tells you a certain person has never been charged or convicted of a sexual offence. That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
If you want to know more about your new employee you should have a look at their social media accounts. There are companies in Australia that offer such services, but this is something you can do yourself.
Go online and check out their social media accounts, see what they post about, what sort of friends do they have, etc. People are less careful when they’re on Facebook or Twitter and you can get a glimpse of their true personality.
Creating workplace policies for HR
Does the candidate often post sexist jokes? Do they share videos that are demeaning to women? You get the idea! Look up the rules of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding harassment in the workplace and make sure that the workplace has strict policies and straightforward procedures for reporting harassment and then management or HR workers dealing with it.
Sexual harassment takes many forms. A guy doesn’t have to be a rapist to be a threat to the wellbeing of your female employees. Imagine hiring someone who has a very low opinion of women and delights in making mean comments about them. Any woman working with such a guy is at risk. Having to listen to someone’s crude jokes and comments all day everyday is a nightmare, particularly if that person is your supervisor.
Also, you might want to look into personality tests. These can be tailored to give an idea on the candidate’s personality, and reveal traits you’re looking for. Obviously, you can use a personality test to see if the candidate is a good team player, has a good memory or problem solving skills, but you can tweak them to find out their opinion and attitude towards women.
No matter what pre-employment checks you use, don’t forget to draw up a company policy on sexual harassment and let your employees know there’s a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abuse directed towards women.