Sex­ual ha­rass­ment pro­ce­dures ex­plained

Cape Argus - - DON'T LOOK AWAY - VANESSA GOVENDER Vanessa Govender is the group ex­ec­u­tive for HR at In­de­pen­dent Me­dia.

LIKE most ca­reers there will al­ways be chal­lenges. How­ever, be­ing a jour­nal­ist in our cur­rent times is no easy job, as it is one of the few ca­reers where a crime can be com­mit­ted while re­port­ing.

As more fe­males en­ter the world of work, the greater their ex­po­sure to all forms of ha­rass­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion, fear and favour. Most jour­nal­ists face a daily task of pro­duc­ing “ex­clu­sive” and “break­ing news” pieces with the chal­lenges present in each sit­u­a­tion.

This task is not easy for both male and fe­male jour­nal­ists. How­ever, fe­males are more vul­ner­a­ble to a so­ci­ety that is rid­den with crime.

The safety of jour­nal­ists is one of the chal­lenges that all me­dia houses face. Not only re­port­ing on in­crim­i­nat­ing sto­ries can put a jour­nal­ist’s life in dan­ger, but pre­sent­ing sto­ries in a so­ci­ety that feels free to vi­o­late, in­tim­i­date, ha­rass and as­sault as and when its pleases also puts a jour­nal­ists life in dan­ger. Al­though there are no spe­cific rules and reg­u­la­tions to cat­e­gor­i­cally pro­tect jour­nal­ists, there are codes of good prac­tices.

Like all em­ploy­ees, jour­nal­ists are also pro­tected by the pro­vi­sions of the Labour Re­la­tions Act.

The Labour Re­la­tions Act is the main act that deals with sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the work­place with a Code of Good Prac­tice on Sex­ual Ha­rass­ment.

In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s ha­rass­ment pol­icy deals with sex­ual ha­rass­ment, which pro­hibits any form of ha­rass­ment, in­clud­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment, whether com­mit­ted by those in au­thor­ity, co-work­ers, sub-or­di­nates or even non-em­ploy­ees. The pol­icy de­fines sex­ual ha­rass­ment as un­wanted con­duct of a sex­ual na­ture, ex­pressed in ver­bal, phys­i­cal and non-ver­bal ways, in­clud­ing be­hav­iour that is per­sisted in, al­though a sin­gle in­ci­dent of ha­rass­ment can con­sti­tute sex­ual ha­rass­ment, when the re­cip­i­ent has made it clear that the be­hav­iour is con­sid­ered of­fen­sive. In the un­for­tu­nate event should our em­ploy­ees be­come a vic­tim of ha­rass­ment, they have a right to raise a griev­ance.

We recog­nise sex­ual ha­rass­ment is a sen­si­tive is­sue and those af­fected may feel un­able to re­port the mat­ter or lodge a for­mal griev­ance. We there­fore en­cour­age our staff to speak to some­one in Hu­man Re­sources, an em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tive, or a trusted col­league for sup­port and guid­ance. Em­ploy­ees are then ad­vised that they can re­solve the is­sue in ei­ther a for­mal or in­for­mal man­ner, but with no duress to ac­cept one or the other op­tion.

We then pro­ceed with the op­tion that the af­fected em­ployee is most com­fort­able with. Griev­ances about sex­ual ha­rass­ment are in­ves­ti­gated and han­dled in a man­ner that en­sures that the iden­ti­ties of the peo­ple in­volved are kept con­fi­den­tial at all times, with the ut­most care to pro­tect the vic­tim.

If the in­for­mal ap­proach has not pro­vided a sat­is­fac­tory out­come, and if the case is se­vere or if the con­duct con­tin­ues, we then fol­low a for­mal dis­ci­plinary process. At the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, only the par­ties con­cerned are present. Should the per­pe­tra­tor be found guilty, dis­missal is the ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tion.

When an in­ci­dent has been re­ported, the em­ployee is of­fered coun­selling, if re­quired, pro­tec­tion ser­vices to and from home and work and, if nec­es­sary, rea­son­able time off from duty. Sex­ual ha­rass­ment pro­cesses are also ex­plained in de­tail dur­ing new en­gage­ment and in­duc­tion ses­sions, so new em­ploy­ees are also aware of the pol­icy, as well as the pro­cesses in how to deal and ad­dress such in­ci­dents.

At In­de­pen­dent Me­dia our staff have the right to be treated fairly and with dig­nity in the work­place, be it in the of­fice or when work­ing re­motely.

We strive to be in a work­place that is free from sex­ual ha­rass­ment, where re­port­ing on ha­rass­ment is done with­out fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.