The Real Deal on What to Do When Someone Complains about Harassment.


As a leader, it’s never easy to know exactly what to do when someone approaches you with a harassment–related issue. Beyond the specifics of your organization’s Harassment Policy, here are some tried-and-true do’s and don’t:




1 Find appropriate location Hold conversation in public or in location that may give rise to speculation or gossip
2 Get all the facts, ask clarifying questions Get a general sense of the issue without the specifics
3 Take it seriously Make light of it, dismissing importance
4 If they’re impacted, it’s actionable for you. Your personal sensitivities are irrelevant. Take a ”this behaviour wouldn’t bother me, so it really shouldn’t bother you” approach
5 Explain confidentiality and its limitations Be unclear about the parameters of confidentiality
6 Be clear that removing harassment and bullying is an organizational responsibility. It’s not up to the individual to solve. Think or tell the complainant that they have to fix it (e.g. they must speak directly with the person involved, or ‘stand up to them’)
7 Ask for their input on preferred modes of resolution, but remember it’s still ultimately the org’ responsibility to fix Come up with solutions and decisions without hearing the complainant’s ideas regarding solutions and preferences
8 Relay the process and next steps clearly. Commit to getting back to them – specifically Be vague about next steps and actions
9 Take action immediately Procrastinate
10 Follow up regularly Forget about it once you’ve dealt with it


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