Workplace harassment produces high labour turnover, legal suits — Dr Angela Dwamena-Aboagye
Workplace sexual harassment tends to produce high labour turnover, decreased productivity and revenue if not checked by employers, a Consultant on Gender-related issues, Dr Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, has observed.
She further warned that if the practice was allowed to fester without effective policies to check it, organisations equally risked incurring legal suits resulting in liabilities and payment of hefty compensation damages for victims of harassment.
Such organisations, she said, could also face bad reputation and public embarrassment, leading to a dip in business fortunes.
Dr Dwamena-Aboagye made the observation in Accra last Thursday at the second workplace harassment prevention training workshop for 62 women in the mining industry.
It was organised by Women in Mining (WIM Ghana), a leading network that promotes the advancement of women in the natural resources sector, with support from the Ford Foundation.
The workshop, which was held both in-person and online, discussed topics such as the cost of sexual harassment to organisations, the responsibilities of both employers and employees in ensuring a safe work environment devoid of all forms of harassment and healing processes for victims of sexual harassment among others.
Dr Dwamena-Aboagye pointed out that it was important for organisations to develop an effective sexual harassment workplace policy and establish proper reporting and complaint systems to ensure effective implementation of the policy.
"Wherever there is sexual harassment, there is trouble. And in some organisations, a lot of people will come and go; and if you are afraid to go to work because of that, it eventually causes a decrease in productivity," the consultant explained.
She stressed the need for employers to create awareness about the policy and provide training for all employees at every level, from the board members to cleaners and third-party contractors.
She advised workers to approach institutions such as the Ghana Police Service, the National Labour Commission, the Courts and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to seek both legal advice and redress.
Another facilitator, Naana Frimpong, who is also a Gender Consultant, said there were various forms of harassment and their effects.
She mentioned them to include verbal, non-verbal and physical contact while their effects were psychological, low self-esteem, intimidation and a feeling of distress.
A leading member of WIM Ghana, Esther Aboagye, in her opening remarks, urged women in leadership positions to help create a conducive work environment for their female colleagues at the bottom of their respective organisational hierarchy.