Gender Identity in Sexual Harassment Policies

In light of current events surrounding cases of sexual harassment and the #MeToo hashtag stirring considerable interest, you will probably be inclined to check that your organisation’s bullying and harassment policies are up to scratch and that everyone has received appropriate training. When doing so, make sure that any references to sexual harassment don’t have a gender bias as this could be seen as discriminatory.

To be fully inclusive of all gender/sexual identities, the politically acceptable acronym is LGBTQQIAAP which can also be shortened to LGBT+. Explanations of the meaning of each letter are:

  • Lesbian - Women that are only attracted to women
  • Gay - Men that are only attracted to men. Gay can also be used to describe homosexual men and women
  • Bisexual - A person that is attracted to both sexes
  • Transgender - A person that has/is transitioning to the opposite sex that they were born with/attributed with at birth (Female to male. Male to female)
  • Queer - A person that does not want to label themselves as, e.g. Lesbian, so they call themselves queer instead
  • Questioning - Someone that is questioning their sexual orientation, unsure which gender/s they are attracted to
  • Intersex - A hermaphrodite; someone born with the genitals of both sexes
  • Asexual - A person that isn't sexually attracted to either gender
  • Allies - A straight person that supports the LGBT(QQIAAP) community
  • Pansexual - A person that is attracted to a person because of their personality and do not care what gender they have relationships with

An alternative may be to use phrases such as “inclusive” which are neutral and do not refer to a particular gender/sexual identity.

Businesses should note that allowing an environment where harassment, sexual or otherwise, occurs, can potentially expose an organisation and make them culpable to any occurrence of harassment and thereby at risk of a Tribunal claim.

Organisational culture will play a large part here so make sure that your risk is minimised by ensuring that all employees undergo Dignity at Work training and that their attendance is recorded. This will provide evidence that suitable action was taken to make everyone aware of what is and what isn’t acceptable and appropriate behaviour in the workplace and help to remove blame from the business.

For information about the Dignity at Work training that we can provide for your organisation, please contact us.

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