In an excellent piece in Harvard Business Review, Karen Firestone, President and CEO of Aureus Asset Management talks about how small businesses tackle allegations of sexual harassment and preventing harassment - and what that's like when your job responsibilities include hiring, promoting, firing, performance reviews on top of other responsibilities. Firestone explains targeted actions she has taken over the years:
Over a decade ago, we wrote up a sexual harassment policy that strongly denounced any form of sexual harassment. These included physical, verbal, or implied requests for sexual favors; inappropriate jokes and gestures; and intimidating behavior. It also offered directions about reporting that misconduct. Each year we revise this, recirculate it, and have every employee sign it. We continue to discuss this policy at company-wide meetings, including one recently, following all the recent news stories on the subject.
Firestone says there hasn't been an allegation of harassment during the company's history, but that doesn't mean she isn't on the lookout. Firestone articulates what actions she would take if an allegation was made, which better prepares her and her business. Crucially, she not just has a policy in place, but she breathes life into it by revisiting and revising the policy every year and addressing it with staff. This lets everyone know that harassment is an issue taken seriously, and that an ounce of prevention is well worth the effort.