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Facebook Went Public With Its Harassment Policy — Now What?

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This year, countless companies and individuals in Big Tech, Hollywood, and even Washington, have come under fire for nurturing inequality, harassment, and oppression. Throughout the year, numerous stories—and scandals—have come to the surface incriminating individuals and companies that are perpetuating racial and gender-based oppression.

As these issues become more and more difficult to ignore, some are coming forward with refreshing transparency to aid in the proliferation of more equal and inclusive policies.

Recently, Facebook publicly released its internal sexual harassment policy. If you’re thinking this is an odd action to take, then you’re not alone. Disclosing harassment policies is certainly an unusual thing to do, but Facebook hopes its transparency might help other companies to better deal with the wave of sexual harassment claims sweeping across the nation.

“Harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace are unacceptable but have been tolerated for far too long,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer in a statement.

“Many people have asked if we’d be willing to share our policies and training guidelines, so today we are making them available publicly—not because we think we have all the answers, but because we believe that the more companies are open about their policies, the more we can all learn from one another,” Sandberg continued.

Facebook’s internal policies on sexual harassment and bullying are now publicly available on their Facebook People Practices website. On it, Facebook provides a breakdown of unlawful harassment, examples of harassment, a rundown of sexual harassment and its many different manifestations, and also goes into great depth about reporting procedures.

Refreshingly, Facebook also has a comprehensive Policy Prohibiting Retaliation. “We recognize that employees may find it difficult to raise complaints about harassment,” the policy reads, recognizing how difficult it is for some to come forward about harassment for fear of retaliation.

Facebook also included a section of tips for maximizing the impact of anti-harassment training for other supervisors at U.S. companies. The section goes into depth with tips on how to successfully run anti-harassment training.

Facebook’s public disclosure of its harassment policies is certainly refreshing to see, especially at a time when knowledge of harassment and misconduct at work is becoming an increasingly difficult-to-ignore elephant in the room.However, the most important concern lies with implementation.

Even after policies are written out and put into place, it’s easy to become complacent. For this reason, it’s absolutely crucial that companies—Facebook included—ensure that these policies are being safeguarded and upheld.

“Sexual harassment policies, like ethics policies, are only as good as the managers who implement them and are responsible for making sure there is broad compliance,” Dan Eaton, an employment attorney recently told Inc.

Eaten went on to say that consequences must be consistently disclosed not only to those involved in a given scenario but to the workplace at large. “That sends a message that these policies are not only on paper but in action," Eaton said.

Ultimately, as admirable as Facebook’s disclosure is, it is only scratching the surface of what needs to be done when it comes to tackling harassment in the workplace. More companies need to develop comprehensive policies and commit to transparency and steadfast implementation. This, as far as I’m concerned, is the only way to begin to put a dent in these rampant issues.

(Image by Chelsea Guglielmino/FilmMagic)

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