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    Four strategies to prevent sexual harassment in your practice

    Clear policies, compliance training will help keep harassment from happening

    Robert A. Dowling, MDRobert A. Dowling, MDSexual harassment is common, costly, and transcends all professions and trades. In the first article in this two-part series (“Medical field no stranger to sexual harassment”), I outlined the definition and incidence of sexual harassment. In this article, I will describe some strategies to prevent it from happening in the first place. Also included are tools and resources. This article is based largely on a recent report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and recommendations contained therein (bit.ly/EEOCreport). 

    Prevention strategy 1: Build and sustain a culture of leadership and accountability. Examples include:

    • Identify and address risk factors for sexual harassment (see part 1 of series).
    • Conduct a formal survey of your workplace (see bit.ly/Harassmentquestionnaire).
    • When harassment occurs, disciplinary action should be prompt, consistent, and proportionate.
    • Hold managers accountable for preventing harassment.

    Also see - EHR survey: Urologists’ usage, satisfaction revealed

    Prevention strategy 2: Develop and maintain anti-harassment policies and procedures. The policy should:

    • describe examples of behavior that constitute sexual harassment and those that do not
    • specify that employees will be protected from retaliation for reporting incidents and cooperating with an investigation
    • describe the complaint, reporting, and investigation process
    • use simple and easy-to-understand language
    • address the use of social media in the context of harassment
    • avoid zero tolerance or one-size-fits-all disciplinary approaches
    • include a workable reporting system.
    • For an example, see bit.ly/Policysample.

    Prevention strategy 3: Compliance training. Training should:

    • describe the company policies, including but not limited to examples of prohibited conduct
    • describe the complaint and reporting process
    • offer examples of permissible conduct (that is not harassment)
    • meet legal requirements for employer nondiscrimination laws
    • include additional training for managers and supervisors
    • be conducted by qualified trainers
    • be performed regularly and evaluated for effectiveness.

    There are many resources available for training—try searching “sexual harassment compliance training” on Google and YouTube.

    Next: Specialized training

    Robert A. Dowling, MD
    Dr. Dowling is president of Dowling Medical Director Services, a private health care consulting firm specializing in quality ...


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