Sexual harassment has been front and center in the news these days – witness the horrific gang rape in India that has spurred world-wide outrage (see also our blogs from last week).

Now, a newly released report from the Department of Defense entitled "Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the United States Military Service Academies" notes that sexual assaults have been rising since 2009 at the US military academies, and increased 23% this year alone (The Naval Academy alone reported a decrease).   A separate survey which was anonymous showed that 51% of women and 10% of men said they were sexually harassed.  Read together, these reports indicate that despite the Pentagon’s encouragement of student to report harassment, they are still reluctant to do so.  

Create A Non-Permissive Environment 

The director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was quoted as saying that “The solution to this problem is creating a non-permissive environment where sexual harassment, sexist behavior, stalking and these types of behaviors are not condoned, tolerated or ignored.”

This is a start, and all employers should follow this advice.  "Creating a non-permissive environment" means maintaining a a firm zero tolerance policy that is strictly followed, and conducting frequent zero tolerance harassment training for both managers and employees. 

A New Year's Resolution

In India, "there is enormous outrage among the young" because of recent attacks on women, and students at various colleges in India “have pledged ‘zero tolerance for sexual harassment’ as their resolution for 2013,” reports DNAIndia.  One woman didn’t need to make a resolution for 2013 because “I never tolerate any kind of harassment, so this (zero tolerance) is in my resolution list every year.”

Perhaps this should be the New Year's resolution for companies too!