With Sexual Harassment in the Limelight, Are Your Non-English-Speaking Employees Trained in Your Company’s Policy?
Legal translation services in the workplace play an important role in helping non-English-speaking employees understand the company’s policy. The Harvey Weinstein scandal opened up a massive debate on gender relations that was a long, long, long time in coming. From the toppling of business, entertainment, and political figures to the recent designation of the #MeToo movement as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” a well-deserved spotlight now shines on the issue of harassment in the workplace, and sexual harassment in general.
It is vitally important that we have this national discussion. By the same token, if you are an HR professional, business executive, business owner, or manager of people in any setting, it is vitally important that you protect your own enterprise by ensuring that sexual harassment is not a part of the culture in your workplace. If you have employees under your purview who have limited English skills, a professional translation service must be a part of any anti-sexual harassment strategy in the workplace. And the strategy would entail translating English Employee Handbooks and Company’s sexual harassment policy documents from English to Russian, Somali, Spanish, Amharic, Indonesian, Nepali, Burmese, and other foreign languages spoken by your limited English proficient (LEP) employees.
Case Studies on Sexual Harassment and Assault Range from the Famous to the Unknown
The reports of sexual harassment in the workplace in just the last year are overwhelming. The perpetrators range from high-profile men in power . . . to unknown supervisors and managers who the media would normally not report on.
• The supervisor of a woman at a franchise bread company told her that she would get credit for working a shift if she went home with him instead. When she turned down the offer, the supervisor cut her hours.
• A house cleaner in the Boston area reported being raped multiple times by her boss. The boss threatened to have her deported if she reported him to the authorities.
Those Most Vulnerable to Workplace Harassment Have Limited English Skills
There is no question that the high profile individuals – Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken – are getting all the attention with regard to sexual harassment. That is a useful development because it has brought this important discussion to the fore in our national discourse.
That said, the focus on politicians, movie stars, CEOs, and others in the white-collar world obscures the reality that the pervasive, insidious problem of sexual harassment hits those without a voice the hardest. In fact, the problem of sexual misconduct is thought to be far more prevalent among low-wage workers.
Indeed, women in low-wage jobs cannot afford to lose their job and, therefore, feel forced to tolerate unwanted sexual advances. Furthermore, low-wage workers often do not speak English and do not know the procedure for reporting abuses.
As with the Boston-area house cleaner above, limited English speaking employees have a legitimate fear that confronting or reporting their harassers will result in deportation for them. Accordingly, workplace managers and HR professionals have a responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable employees can protect themselves from workplace sexual harassment.
The Current Nationwide Awareness of Sexual Harassment Should Be a Wake-up Call for Employers to Step Up Harassment Policy Document Translation Process
It would be a surprise if the flood of sexual misconduct allegations in the news did not prompt every employer and HR department in the country to get every one of their employees into anti-sexual harassment training . . . pronto!
What some researchers have concluded is that sexual harassment is most common in male-dominated industries, such as construction and manufacturing. By contrast, female-dominated or gender-balanced professions, such as education, are far less tolerant of such behavior. That reality can help employers address a culture of sexual harassment in the office.
1. Have a Policy – The first step for any employer is to either establish or update their Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures. A good policy should have the following parts:
• Zero tolerance for harassment of any kind;
• Examples of what is harassment to clarify the policy;
• Clear definition of sexual harassment;
• Duty to report on the part of the victim or bystander is the only way the policy can function;
• Protection from retaliation should be emphasized so victims are not fearful of coming forward;
• Complaint procedure must be in place so an investigative process is employed for every accusation;
• Confidentiality should be respected at all times during the process, again to encourage victims to report misconduct;
2. Communicate the Policy – No workplace policy can be effective if it is not communicated to the employees. Distributing a written policy to all employees, and ensuring that employees take Anti-Sexual Harassment Training are fundamental to communicating the policy.
3. Enforce the Policy – A policy is only as good as its enforcement. HR professionals and employers in general must be prepared to follow through on complaint procedures in order to have a fighting chance to change a workplace culture.
The best indicator of change in a company’s culture is when the consequences of not reporting misconduct are worse than the consequences of reporting. As of now, it appears the opposite is true in many workplaces.
Legal Translation Services Help Us Speak the Same Language
As noted above, a policy is only effective if it is communicated and enforced. When dealing with employees who have no, or limited, English speaking skills, the policy will not be effective if non-English speakers cannot understand it.
That is where legal translation service comes into play. A company should not simply “hope for the best,” and assume that a non-English speaking employee will somehow learn the anti-sexual harassment policy. Rather, an employer should ensure that the policy is translated into the LEP employees’ languages.
To enforce the company’s sexual harassment policy, translation services also play a part. Once a complaint is made, a non-English speaking worker needs to be able navigate the complaint process.
Don’t Take The Easy Route – Get A Professional Language Service That Specializes in Legal Translation
Relying on a bilingual person in the office is not good enough when it comes to something as important as an Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy.
Hire All Language Alliance, Inc., translation agency that specializes in legal translation, to properly communicate with and enforce your policy to non- or limited English speakers in your workplace. That is true because
• Mistranslations can have serious consequences in a sexual misconduct case,
• Professional document translation service understands different dialects, which most informal translators may not appreciate; and
• Professional document translating service can be empathetic to those who may also have different cultural responses (or level of embarrassment) when it comes to sexual matters. In that vein, a translation service can make sure that the legal interpreter is the same gender as the victim, because that might make the process that much easier.
Now more than ever, it is time for companies to step up their anti-harassment game. It is important to protect against lawsuits aimed at the company, to foster a healthy work environment, and ideally to stop harassment before it starts. So start today. Translate your company’s anti-sexual harassment policy and procedures from English to Spanish, Nepali, Burmese, Amharic, Somali, Indonesian, Russian, and other languages spoken by your multilingual workforce.