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Are you ignoring same-sex harassment in your workplace?

by , 17 April 2013
Sexual harassment is on the rise in the workplace. But you could be missing it if you've turned a blind eye to same-sex harassment. In fact, a same-sex harassment case is being reconsidered in the US as a result of the victim responding in kind to his harasser with discriminatory terms like 'princess' and 'faggot', even though neither is homosexual. Here are three ways to handle same-sex harassment in your company...

Did you know that same-sex harassment falls within sexual harassment?
It's true. 
And same-sex harassment doesn't need to be motivated by sexual attraction – in fact, it often has nothing to do with homosexuality.
What is same-sex harassment?
That's why same-sex harassment includes where a man ridicules the size of another man's penis or feigns sodomy to humiliate another man, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
And that's exactly what happened in the US, where a supervisor has been accused of simulating sexual intercourse, exposing his genitals and calling the employee 'girlish' because he used Wet Ones instead of toilet paper to clean himself after using the bathroom, says Workforce.com.
Unfortunately, the workplace is full of this type of discrimination.
Three ways to prevent same-sex harassment in your workplace
That's why you need to include same-sex harassment in your sexual harassment policy, to prevent this form of discrimination in your workplace by making employees aware of it.
It's also a good idea to adopt policies and procedures in relation to the treatment of sexual harassment cases like the 'Wet Ones' case in the US, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
Lastly, you can prevent same-sex harassment by putting in place continuous training and sensitisation programmes.
One way to do so would be to hire a drama group to stimulate discussion and understanding of all forms of sexual harassment through simulation of different forms of sexual harassment, including same-sex harassment.
This is an effective way to bring home the message as your employees aren't just read or hearing about same-sex harassment, they're seeing it before their eyes, says InfoNet.
Better yet, set up role plays where your employees act out a short scene themselves – by involving them in the process, they'll be that much less likely to engage in any form of harassment in future.

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