With Hollywood recently rocked by numerous allegations of sexual harassment, other sectors are taking a good look at their own procedures and the events industry is no exception. Event planners have countless tasks, from choosing amazing venues to booking speakers. But the well-being of attendees should always be a priority and stamping out sexual harassment is part of this.
Sexual harassment at work is a pervasive issue, it would be naïve to assume it does not also happen at conferences. Fortunately, there some straight forward steps which can be taken to ensure conferences become safe events for everyone.
Establishing a conference code of conduct for all attendees is vital, with acts of harassment specifically designated within it. Clarify what will not be tolerated, but also encourage victims to come forward if violations have occurred.
Have a clear reporting procedure, with trained staff who understand the implications of sexual harassment and be aware it does not just affect women. In 2016 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that 16% sexual harassment charges were filed by men and there are undoubtedly many more which go unreported.
If harassment does occur, swift consequences can reduce the likelihood of it happening again. These might range from being dismissed immediately from the conference without a refund to police involvement depending on the severity of the incident. Keep an eye on the attendance list and have a zero tolerance policy. If someone harasses once, they should be banned from future events.
Keeping a conference free from harassment will ensure those attending the unique event venues have a positive experience, enhancing the reputation of the event organiser.