Facebook shares its sexual harassment policy in bid for industry transparency
- As part of an industry-wide move towards more transparency, Facebook has posted its sexual harassment policy on its website for the public to view, reports Business Insider. COO Sheryl Sandberg and and VP of people Lori Goler wrote in a statement that the social media company posted the policy to encourage information sharing on the topic between employers.
- Facebook's website includes tips for conducting effective anti-harassment training; information on how the company conducts internal investigations; and examples of harassment in the workplace, such as "derogatory or insensitive jokes, pranks, or comments," "slurs or epithets," and "unwelcome sexual advances or invitations."
- Facebook's policy also states that excuses such as "I didn't mean it that way" or "I was just joking" won't exempt behavior, the report says.
Perhaps the #MeToo movement, which encourages targets and witnesses to speak out about sexual misconduct, has encouraged Facebook and others to become more transparent about how they handle allegations and investigate claims.
Many employers have found themselves in hot water over their handling of sexual harassment claims in the workplace. Pennsylvania legislators have introduced a bill to end the use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual harassment claims, which are still a fairly common tool for employers that seek to limit exposure from such claims.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officials have talked about the NDA problem, saying that workers can bring complaints forward even if they're bound by these agreements. Congress also recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would ban employers from using mandatory arbitration to keep accusers from taking their claims to court.
Professors at the University of Texas at Arlington recently commented on the results of a study that found that progress has been made in curbing sexual harassment in the workplace, but that the lack of a definition of sexual harassment has hampered future progress. In the meantime, employers can take a note from Facebook's playbook and include definitions in their policies to make it clear that sexual misconduct in its various forms won't be tolerated.