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Posted By SABPP, Thursday, 02 July 2020





By Dr Penny Abbott , MHRP


The SABPP Ethics and HR Governance Webinar on 24-25 June 2020, attended by over 85 people, was the perfect opportunity to launch the newly-developed Toolkit to assist HR practitioners in handling the difficult issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.


The Toolkit arose from an Open Space event run by the SABPP in October 2019, at which the many different dimensions and complications of sexual harassment were discussed.  Several themes were identified, as:


  1.  Societal norms – how they influence the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace
  2. Organisational cultures – how to create a culture which discourages sexual harassment and creates a safe working place
  3. Fear – silencing, shame, victimisation
  4. Definition - what is or is not sexual harassment
  5. Love contracts to deal with sexual relationships between employees
  6. Procedures – what is important to have in place to deal with complaints
  7. Mediation – its place and use as an informal means of dealing with complaints
  8. Dealing with the fall-out once complaints have been dealt with

Since then, a wide range of tools have been developed to deal with those issues, and we have housed them all in a toolkit available free of charge on the website for SABPP members as part of our member value proposition.  Follow the path to the Virtual HR tab on the far right-hand side of the main menu, and you will see the Sexual Harassment Interest Group option on the drop-down list. This will take you to the main landing page, shown below:




By clicking on one of the boxes in the graphic, you will be taken to the appropriate page, which lists the various resources available, which include podcasts, articles, case studies, templates for use in your workplace, and links to further resources.  Two of the resources which were highlighted at the webinar are a template for a Risk Assessment of your workplace and a Checklist for HR practitioners which covers a list of items which, if in place, will significantly reduce the risk that sexual harassment will occur, and will also ensure that your organisation meets the requirements of the Code of Good Practice.


The toolkit will be enhanced with further resources over time, and will be updated as required. For example, there are current discussions in Nedlac on updating the Code of Good Practice to align with ILO Convention 90, which expands the notion of sexual harassment to deal with violence in the workplace.


We believe that preventing and dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace is an ethical imperative for HR practitioners. It goes to the heart of the ethical climate in the organisation and can build or destroy trust between employees and the organisation. The issue remains highly relevant, even amongst the disruption of the Covid19 pandemic, as sexual harassment can as well be conducted virtually as physically, with equally devastating impact on the victim and equally severe potential risks to the organisation.


The SABPP has set up a Special Interest Group on this topic, which will meet virtually from time to time to discuss issues, learn from case studies, and assist members of the group to develop their skills in this area of practice. Judging for the response of the participants at the webinar, a full webinar on the topic is warranted, and we will investigate putting that together.


So please, visit the pages on the website, get to know the resources available, ‘test drive’ the resources and give us feedback.  If you would like to join the Special Interest Group, and/or if you would like to put in a request for an additional element for the toolkit, please contact Ajay Jivan on


A big thank you to the SABPP staff who worked long and hard creating this web-based toolkit for us. Thank you also to the contributors to the toolkit, primarily Dr Angela du Plessis and Zanele Masoek, together with several others, all acknowledged on the toolkit contents. Our main partners in this were Tokiso Dispute Settlement and Conflict Dynamics.


By Dr Penny Abbott, MHRP


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