Building a successful career in loss prevention has always been predicated on the commitment to professional development. Working in a business as dynamic as retail, it is essential that we remain flexible in our methods and progressive in our approach to a global retail market. As the business moves forward change comes quickly, and our skills and abilities must evolve to meet the needs and expectations of a new professional standard.
But true growth must be built on a solid foundation. Especially when we consider the pace of change, we find that success is largely based on the refinement of the fundamental principles that anchor our skills and our decision making. By expanding on our foundation of knowledge, we give ourselves a stronger and more stable base to build upon. We reinforce our futures by broadening our opportunities.
Workplace harassment may be defined as any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct that either denigrates or shows hostility or aversion towards a person on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, political affiliation, or disability; when such conduct:
- Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment
- Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance
- Affects an employee’s professional development or compensation
What constitutes a hostile work environment will be determined by looking at all of the mitigating circumstances specific to the individual situation, including the frequency of the allegedly harassing conduct, the severity of such conduct, whether that conduct is considered physically threatening or humiliating, and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s performance.
Sexual harassment in the workplace occurs when an employee makes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature to another employee against his or her wishes. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), such harassment occurs when:
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or a basis for employment decisions
- Unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance
- When such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of ways and in a wide array of situations. Sexual harassment can involve a supervisor, but may also involve another manager, a vendor or other business partner, a peer or coworker, or even a customer. Anyone connected with the work environment can potentially be accused of harassment.
Sexual harassment isn’t necessarily characterized by a man harassing a woman. Harassment can occur with a woman victimizing a man, or harassment can occur between individuals of the same gender. If the harassment is sexual in nature, it is sexual harassment, regardless of gender.
Clearly, sexual harassment can be a complicated subject. Any time that a loss prevention manager is called upon to participate in these investigations, they should refer to their company’s specific policies and recommended procedures. Every employer has the responsibility to take harassment complaints seriously, and follow their due diligence to investigate these matters to their appropriate conclusion. Such conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in the workplace and may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about developing your leadership skills and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.