4 Steps Businesses Should Take Now to Address Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment concerns are plaguing companies because many don’t know how to address the issue. Unfortunately, startups and small businesses are at the highest risk of mishandling Sexual Harassment because they often lack the legal team and HR resources to build a strong anti-harassment program.

It makes you wonder, if large companies – including major television networks, Hollywood movie studios, and government entities – have failed to adequately address this issue, what hope does a smaller-sized company have?

Let’s explore.

What Businesses Need to do Now to address Sexual Harassment…

Step 1 – Start the Conversation

Since workplace sexual harassment issues have been exposed now more than ever before, the conversation has been ignited. Nevertheless, for startups and small businesses, the first step is to still admit that for far too long, company cultures have allowed misogynistic behavior to remain and flourish. It’s certainly time to fully address the issue by initiating open and honest dialog with your employees and company leaders.

But, it’s not enough to simply start the “conversation. 

Much of the chatter surrounding Sexual Harassment conversations discuss the blurred line between inappropriate and legal behavior, but no one has truly defined what that line is.

Renee Barnes, CEO - ComplyTrain

Much chatter around surrounding Sexual Harassment conversations discuss the blurred line between inappropriate and legal behavior, but no one has truly defined what that line is.

So – how do you define it?


Step 2 – Craft Well-Written Policies

One of the most important steps a company should take to address the issue of Sexual Harassment is to have a well written policy against it. 

What does it mean to have “well-written” policies?

If you want to properly handle HR issues, you can’t do it with half-baked HR policies. The HR policies must be well written.  For example, you can’t simply download a policy template from the internet or borrow from a friend in HR. Your company can be a risk of lawsuits with large fines and judgements if your policies don’t comply with federal and state HR laws and statutes. 

A well-written policy communicates that your company will comply with federal and state employment regulations and laws, and provides custom information on how to issue a formal HR complaint in your organization.

 Why are well-written policies important?

  1. Well written policies communicate the company’s commitment to the safety of all employees.
  2. The policy outlines what legally constitutes harassment. This is key, because some of the worst harassment offenders often claim they didn’t know their behavior crossed the line.
  3. The policy can be enforced and empowers the company to take action. If the company does NOT have a policy, how can they then suspend or fire an offender without the possibility of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Proper HR Employment policies are  very first step to combat the issue of sexual harassment. It is vital to build a culture of compliance as a foundation of change.

Proper HR Employment policies are very first step to combat the issue of sexual harassment. It is vital to build a culture of compliance as a foundation of change.

Policies take out the guess work and make it more clear to employees what to do in the event of sexual harassment. This gives employers and employees much more power to take identify and take action against infractions.

How does ComplyTrain address this need? 

The ComplyTrain HR Compliance System allows you to enter key company information. Your policies are then customized for your company and loaded into the ComplyTrain system. Employees then read and consent to complying with the policy. This consent is recorded in the ComplyTrain system, which allows you to always prove when an employee read and consented to your HR policies.


Step 3 – Require Sexual Harassment Training

Companies must go a step further and train each employee, manager, and leader on their roles in spotting, reporting, and preventing sexual harassment.

This is very key – so that no offender can claim that he/she did not understand the policy. They must be trained and pass the certification.

Sexual Harassment Training Options for Small-Medium sized Businesses

1. Create your own

Unless you have the time, resources, and budget to pull in HR, Legal, Instructional Design, eLearning Developers, Editors, Graphic Design, and a Learning Management System – then your’e not ready for this option.

Or – if you’re thinking about putting together a powerpoint and getting everyone together in the conference room – don’t do that. You want sexual harassment training that’s trackable and repeatable.

 2. Purchase off the shelf Sexual Harassment eLearning.

Many companies do this out of convenience – but there are drawbacks.

  • Off-the-shelf sexual harassment elearning often is designed with wordy definitions and that take the learner through countless screens of text. 
  • Online sexual harassment training can also be loaded with over the top, scripted role play scenarios. These role plays are often unrealistic, and feature plots with advice that doesn’t even line up the current federal or state employment laws. As a result, it’s usually best to stay away from role plays when shopping for online sexual harassment training.
  • But perhaps the biggest flaw with off the shelf sexual harassment training is that these courses are generic. They don’t directly address your company’s sexual harassment policy.

Therefore, they may do very little to protect your company in the event of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

There is a better way.

3. Customized Compliance Training designed to explain your Company’s policy

ComplyTrain provides custom Sexual Harassment training based on your company’s Sexual Harassment Policy.

Since we work to customize your policies – we include custom training with all of our ComplyTrain packages.

Now, small businesses and startups can have a strong compliance program in place without going to the web and purchasing generic off-the-shelf training.

ComplyTrain gives startups, small businesses  a complete, custom HR compliance program for a fraction of the cost of building it on their own.

Step 4 – Use an HR Compliant System

Many startups and small businesses have major issues tracking formal HR complaints. Furthermore, in most small businesses employees often don’t know how to file a complaint.

An HR Compliant system can be crucial for your business because it provides a central location for any employee to file an HR complaint, while giving companies an powerful way to track the complaint throughout the investigation and resolution process.

Traditionally, employees are encouraged to “go to a supervisor or manager” to report sexual harassment. But in a small business, there may be few managers to choose from. What if the only manager is actually your alleged harasser? What if they are within the inner circle of the Executive team? 

The employee is much less likely to report the harassment when they is no neutral, safe place to report the problem.

This is issue is addressed with ComplyTrain’s HR Complaint System which is an optional add-on feature of ComplyTrain.

What is ComplyTrain’s HR Complaint System?

ComplyTrain’s HR Complaint System allows employees to submit their HR complaint and funnels the complaint to the company. Here’s how it works:

  1. The employee goes to the HR Complaint System and issues their compliant (they include text, and even upload video, audio, and additional notes).
  2. The complaint goes to the company’s designated HR resource and leadership who begins to investigate the complaint.
  3. The company can opt for HR consulting or schedule a discussion with an Attorney to help with their investigation.
  4. The employee receives an acknowledgement receipt with additional information on the investigation process.
  5. The employee receives updates throughout the investigation process.
  6. The company completes the investigation, communicates its findings to the employee, and saves the outcome in the system. 

Why is the ComplyTrain’s HR Complaint System a game changer?

  • The system helps employees  share their stories and reduce the fear of going to a supervisor directly, providing a safer way to complain.
  • And, helps companies manage HR complaints with a centralized system for all documents, notes, and updates – essential while conducing the HR complaint internal investigation.

The ComplyTrain HR Complaint System is an add-on to our standard package – and will make a tremendous impact in startups and small businesses.



Startups and small businesses need a strong HR Compliance Program where they can be proteced from expensive HR issues, and employees can feel safe in a workplace that prioritizes compliance policies, training, and reinforcement. 

A lack of HR Compliance means employees can easily be targeted and vulnerable to discrimination, sexual harassment, and other illegal practices, with little or no protection. For Employers, this absense of a compliance program often leads to costly lawsuits, fines, and negative publicity from being sued. It’s vital for every startup and small to medium sized business to build a culture of compliance within their organization.

Take our FREE HR Compliance Risk Assessment Quiz to find out your company’s risks of HR Compliance issues.


About the Author ComplyTrain

ComplyTrain is a proprietary cloud-based software platform that provides everything companies need to deploy a complete HR compliance program. We make HR Compliance assessible to every company, no matter the size. A rock solid HR compliance program helps companies build a compliant workforce, promoting workplace safety, inclusion, and unbias treatment, and helping avoid costly lawsuits, fines, and negative publicity from being sued. www.complytrain.com

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Leave a Comment:

Jessica Campain says March 4, 2018

Hi there, Do you have a certifying body that certifies your training? Are any credentials/certificates offered to employees that take this training?

    ComplyTrain says March 9, 2018

    Hi Jessica,
    Excellent questions! Yes, all employees who take the training receive certifications. The training is compliant with EEOC and CA AB 1825, AB 2053, SB 396, and SB 400. We also provide tracking and reporting included, plus monthly micro-learning to reinforce the courses.
    Let me know if you have any additional questions!

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