Interns are an important part of our team here at Converge, and not
only are we a majority female team, but both of our current interns are also
female. This is why we were particularly horrified about the news last week
about Welsh politician Rob Roberts, inviting a 21-year-old female intern to
“fool around with him”.
The Me Too movement has encouraged more survivors to step forward and
share their experience of sexual harassment. Yet a 2020 study from the
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 25% of
employees still believe sexual harassment and bullying are being swept under
the rug in their workplace. When looking at women specifically between 16 and
24- years old, in the UK, 63% said they experienced sexual harassment at work,
and 20% said their harasser was either a manager or someone holding an
authoritarian position within the organization.
Steven Eckett, Head of Employment Law at law firm Meaby&Co
Solicitors LLP, came out with five key lessons to be learned from this awful
yet common situation.
1. Appropriate Training
Consider adding to your typical
training, a specific one for staff who will be working with or managing interns,
prior to the start of intern onboarding. Lay clear ground rules as to what the
intern’s role is, and reiterate company anti-harassment policies.
2. Anti-Retaliation Policy
expect victims of harassment or bullying to report the issue if they fear
retaliation from other employees. Have clear anti-retaliation policies, and
include policies in those that apply specifically to intern.
3. Update Anti-harassment and Anti-bullying Policies
Now is a great time to update
your employee handbook. With the Black Lives Matter movement taking place, we
at Converge, have been encouraging clients to update their anti-discrimination
policies. Use this time to also update your anti-harassment and anti-bullying
policies. Make it easily accessible for all employees, including interns, to
know what to do if they see, experience, or find out about any kind of
harassment or hate in the workplace.
4. Multiple Ways To Report
This applies not only to interns
but to reporting in general. Someone being harassed may wish to bypass certain
individuals, specifically if those individuals are the cause of the harassment.
Remember 20% of interns who experienced sexual harassment, were harassed by a
superior. Allow interns to raise formal grievances, and then the employer can
decide to handle it as a complaint or grievance.
5. Induction Programs
Finally, consider having an
induction program as part of your onboarding for interns. Explain to them that
while your workplace has a zero-tolerance policy for hate or discrimination of
any kind, that that is a very real and relevant issue. Layout what is and what
is not acceptable in your workplace and how to handle situations if they do see
As internships are not as regulated as employment is, it is up to you,
and your HR team, to ensure that internships in your company are a safe and
mutually beneficial experience for both parties. You can read the full original
article here. If you would like
assistance in updating any of your policies, please reach out to