Career & Jobs

The 6th Hotel HR Forum: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: For Hotel HR Managers

Are you a Human Resources Director, Manager in the Hotel Industry? Are you involved in the day to day management of your hotel staffers? Then, you don’t need to skip this. The Hotel HR Directors and Managers  Forum is the place for you. Organized by  W Hospitality Group, the leading International Experts in Hotels, Tourism and leisure in Africa,  At the just concluded April edition, the issue of Sexual Harassment in the industry was top of the agenda. Read Highlight from the event:

We had yet another engaging discussion in the April edition of the Hotel HR Forum highlighting issues that HRs face in the hotel sector. To be fair, this isn’t an issue peculiar to our sector, it is one that transcends boundaries and does not discriminate – female, male, old, young, manager, line staff… Yes, it is more commonly understood to be a gender-specific phenomenon, females generally experience sexual harassment more often than their male counterparts. But interestingly too, there are also recorded cases of the reverse taking place.

Our guest speaker, @OmololaAhmed of @Famsville Solicitors gave a presentation highlighting the definition and scope of sexual harassment (the keyword here is ‘unwelcome’), the scope of considered offences (physical, verbal and non-verbal); legal frameworks (…did you know that Lagos State is the only state in Nigeria that has criminalised sexual harassment…see Section 262(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011); conducting investigations (the aim of which is not to prove things but to weigh the evidence and determine the weightier side); and of course organisational policies that should be in place to guard against the occurrence of sexual harassment (did you know that zero complaints about sexual harassment in your organisation should raise a red flag?).

Organisations that do not consider addressing sexual harassment as top priority, experience an inability to attract and retain the best talent (word does get around eventually that yours is not a safe place to work!); high levels of absenteeism, turnover and subsequent staff replacement costs, low productivity, and not to mention, sanctions, penalties and costs of legal suits. These are just some of the drawbacks associated with ignoring the elephant in the room.

In summary, the following are some of the learning points from the session:

  • Have a strong policy against sexual harassment in your organisation
  • Conduct training sessions on a regular basis to educate and inform employees about this policy and its implications
  • Communicate your policy against sexual harassment to guests and other stakeholders
  • Investigate! Investigate! Investigate. When you receive a complaint, conduct an investigation and document the entire process
  • Bring in a third party, should you envision some bias in the investigation process

Set up a dedicated email where employees can report anonymously (should they wish to) and without fear

  • Most importantly, you as the HR, should be perceived as neutral throughout the investigation. Avoid using words such as ‘the victim’ but rather use ‘the alleged victim’. A person should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise!


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