Most workplaces now have sexual harassment strategies in place which are intended to protect employees from unwanted advances, and to protect employers from (also unwanted) lawsuits. The strategies themselves may be well-devised, but sexual harassment in the office continues to be a common concern. A simple online search will lead you to multiple stories of harassment allegations, even at some of the most well-known and well-respected corporations. So why does office harassment continue to be a problem?
The issue is often one of complacency. Problems which should be addressed are not, and a company atmosphere seems to feed itself. For example, employers often fail to act against questionable behavior (comments, jokes, etc.) until a complaint is made. Even when a complaint is made and actions are taken, changing what has become a common practice can be difficult. Even well-intentioned employees may not know where to draw the line if they have been allowed to behave a certain way in the past.
Combatting this problem requires being proactive. Address questionable behavior even before a complaint is made. Keep in mind that not being proactive puts the burden upon the person being harassed to do something about the problem - an uncomfortable position for most employees, especially in smaller offices. In addition, try to foster an open atmosphere with your workforce, to make harassed employees feel more comfortable bringing problems to your attention. Finally, always treat sexual harassment complaints with serious, effective responses. In addition to protecting your office from legal complaints, addressing harassment concerns even before they are official can make for a happier, more productive workplace.