How Facebook is tackling harassment in the workplace

File photo: A 3D printed Facebook like-button is to see it in front of the Facebook logo, in this picture-October 25, 2017. (REUTERS/dado Ruvic)

Facebook has recently launched its internal harassment policy public in an effort to encourage other companies to adopt the very stringent standards.

The world’s largest social network of the policy — all 3,671 words’ value — acts considers offensive. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also wrote a post to explain why the policy audience.

“A lot of people have asked if we are willing to share in our policies, in particular the smaller businesses who not have the resources to make their own,” Sandberg wrote. “We do so today not because we think that a company policy or implementation are perfect, but because we believe that the more organisations are open about their policies, the more we can all learn from each other.”


The list of things that can get someone reported is indeed long. “Protected species” range of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, identity, and nationality, marital status, political affiliation, and military or veteran status.

Harassment on the basis of the categories of “behavior that makes for disrespectful, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for an employee.”

The examples of sexual harassment are even longer than the categories of: derogatory or insensitive jokes, pranks, or remarks; insults or epithets; unwelcome sexual advances or invitations; staring, leering or gestures; derogatory comments; the share of objectionable posters, cartoons, screen savers, e-mails, or drawings; offensive comments about appearance; unwanted physical contact such as touching or massaging; sexual threats or requirements relating to employment.

But that’s not all: “This list of examples is not exhaustive,” Facebook says, “and there may be other behaviors that constitute unacceptable harassment under the Policy.”

And the rules apply even if the behavior is legal: “Because the intention of this Policy is to deter behavior that is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive,” it says, “Facebook may consider an employee’s conduct is contrary to this Policy, even if it falls short of unlawful harassment under the relevant legislation.”

“Every company,” Sandberg wrote, “should aspire to doing the hard and ongoing work that is needed to build a safe and respectful work environment, and we must all work together to make this possible.

“We need systemic, lasting changes to deter bad behavior and protect everyone. It will be a challenging and ongoing effort to change the culture. But the implementation of the policies and practices that determine the way of working forms the core of the creation of a safe and productive work environment for everyone.”

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