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What's the best response to sexual harassment?

The last month has been such a watershed of sexual harassment allegations in the news that many of us are spinning, wondering which celebrity -- which important political figure -- is going face accusations of sexual misconduct next. While everyone will agree that it's good to stop this kind of behavior and hold those who commit it accountable, some may be wondering about what they should do if they become the victims of sexual harassment moving forward.

Responding to any kind of sexual harassment isn't easy when our society tends to silence this kind of behavior. Many individuals are becoming extra careful now, in the wake of these allegations, not to commit sexual harassment themselves. Even managers, who have not committed sexual harassment, but must take the complaints about sexual harassment, are concerned that if they respond the wrong way they will be viewed as sexual harassers themselves.

So, how should we respond to this abuse as victims, managers and a society? In fact, like any legal matter, instances of sexual harassment need to be reviewed and investigated individually and objectively. Employers should act upon complaints of sexual harassment immediately and take action immediately as well. The victims should immediately be protected from further abuse from his or her abuser, while the employer investigates the matter to make a determination. In many cases, it would be equally effective to have an independent investigatory board to investigate such matters swiftly and come to a clear conclusion.

Also, victims should not be shy about coming forward. What we're seeing right now is a long-needed purge. It's a sea change that we hope will bring sexual harassment and toxic workplace environments to an end once and for all. If you are being sexually harassed at work, even in the wake of all these scandals, it's time that you joined the revolution.

Source: The New York Times, "How Should We Respond to Sexual Harassment?," Amanda Taub, Nov. 29, 2017

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