You should be alert for these emerging trends in workplace victimization, reports HR magazine:
â€œHomosexualâ€ victims â€” In many workplaces, the harshest abuse is reserved for individuals who are perceived as homosexual, regardless of whether they are or are not.
Teenage victims â€” Several recent lawsuits have involved young girls who were groped, asked for lap dances or even raped. It may be particularly important to train and review harassment policies with teenage workers before summer, when the number of U.S. workers ages 15 to 17 swells to four million from three million.
Muslim victims â€” Since Sept. 11, 2001, much of the religion-based harassment has been directed at Muslims, and itâ€™s a trend that shows no sign of abating soon.
Why do the worst harassers and abusers act the way they do? Says one psychotherapist: Such people say and do outrageous things that cause intense fear, shame or humiliation because theyâ€™re psychologically incapable of feeling the other personâ€™s pain. They also tend to lack insight into their own motivations. â€œThese people may have absolutely no idea how insensitive they are.â€
When confronting such individuals, you need to spell out the problem in very clear, concrete terms.
Experts caution if a company fails to respond effectively, anyone who might be prone to cruel or vile behavior may feel that a green light has been given, and the behavior can quickly escalate to the next level. A message that misconduct will be tolerated or even condoned is probably the number one factor contributing to egregious workplace behavior, according to the article. The absence of a clear â€œstopâ€ sign often is interpreted as â€œgo.â€
What to do? First, get buy-in from the person at the very top of the organization, says a human resources consultant. Show how harassment will ultimately affect the bottom line.
That shouldn't be difficult, considering all the potential costs associated with egregious behavior. Once youâ€™ve secured support at the top, itâ€™s easier to send a strong message to all those below.
Just having an anti-harassment policy, complaint mechanism and investigation procedure in place isnâ€™t enough, though. You need to make sure that theyâ€™re actually used, which means having safeguards to protect complainants from retaliation.
Two emerging danger zones you may want to address are: