The automotive industry isn’t immune from sexual harassment issues. Sadly, sexual harassment in automotive businesses often goes unreported or when it is reported, nothing’s done about it. When harassment occurs, there are ways for this industry to turn things around and combat the sexual harassment.
1. Acknowledge There’s An Issue
As simple as it may sound, acknowledging there’s actually a problem with sexual harassment is the first step toward combating it. Dealerships can have a significant turnover rate for female employees. Both co-workers and customers are to blame.
Start by deploying an anonymous survey. This helps determine the next step. It also lets you see how your employees are being treated. Always conduct the survey anonymously so employees feel comfortable telling the truth.
2. Implement An Ethics Hotline
Usually, employees are supposed to report issues directly to HR, but the truth is, sometimes nothing is done about sexual harassment reports. In fact, HR could easily be friends with the person being accused, especially when it comes to smaller automotive businesses. In one survey, 18% of women report harassment to HR, but 30% of those were highly dissatisfied with the results. A mere 6% said they were happy with the outcome.
To combat this bias problem, implement an ethics hotline. Instead of just one or two people, you create a team that take an unbiased look at reports. Even more importantly, reports can be anonymous, protecting the victim.
3. Train All Employees On Sexual Harassment Policies
One of the reasons sexual harassment in automotive industry is so prevalent is lack of training on company policies. Start by taking a hard look at your current policies. Are you following the procedures listed? Do you even have procedures? Update your policy to ensure it states your business has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and list what happens if the accused is found guilty.
During your training, explain exactly how to use your automotive ethics hotline. List what to report, how the process works and what to expect after the investigation is complete. Also, remind everyone to report sexual harassment when they see it, not just experience it themselves.
4. Follow Through On Investigations
The most common reason people stop using ethics hotlines is nothing ever changes. Retaliation is a close second, even though whistleblowers are supposed to be protected. The problem often happens in male-dominated industries like automotive, though males definitely deal with sexual harassment too.
If you’re serious about combating sexual harassment, you have to follow through on investigations. Ensure they’re performed fairly and in a timely manner. Also, handle the issue if someone’s found guilty. You also have to pay attention to any possible retaliation. If you’re not sure if things are going like they should, consider an ethics hotline audit.
5. Protect Whistleblowers
To truly combat sexual harassment in automotive industries, you have to protect the whistleblowers. Take reports seriously. Encourage them to report retaliation. Keep accusers anonymous for their safely. Finally, let employees know that your company appreciates whistleblowers and how they ensure your automotive business is safer and better as a result.