Any other business

The principles guiding Facebook’s sexual harassment policy

3 min read

12 December 2017

A month after House of Cards producer Media Rights Capital had some of its sexual harassment policy leaked, Facebook publishes its own in its entirety.

Within a blog post, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, alongside its VP of people, Lori Goler, set out the reason behind this decision.

“Many people have asked if we’d be willing to share our policies and training guidelines, so we are making them available publicly – not because we think we have all the answers, but because we believe that the more companies are open about such policies, the more we can all learn from one another,” the pair said.

In particular, Sandberg and Goler are convinced it will help small company bosses shape their own sexual harassment procedures. Lawyers are something most SMEs can ill-afford and so bosses need to write up their own versions.

The two also cite the principles which helped guide Facebook’s policy as advice.

The first point mentions developing some form of training that sets the standard for respectful behaviour at work. In this way, people know what’s expected of them straight off the bat.

All sexual harassment claims should be treated seriously, they said, and the implementation of a neutral and fair investigation process is crucial. Any suggested policy must be followed, as well as consistently maintained.

“Take swift and decisive action when it is determined that wrongdoing has occurred,” Sandberg and Goler proclaim. “We have a zero tolerance policy, and that means that when we are able to determine that harassment has occurred, those responsible are fired.”

The last guiding principle is to foster a culture where staff know workplace safety rests on their shoulders as well.

In the meantime, the policy delves into the likes of unwelcome advances, derogatory jokes and threats or demands. No such behaviour is warranted, and the words “I didn’t mean it that way” is said to be held in low regard.

All managers, no matter where in the globe, receive the same level of training and are made to know the ins and outs of any applicable law – as well as the suggested steps in the Facebook policy. Any claims, it notes, should be reported ideally within 24 hours.

“There’s no question that it is complicated and challenging to get this right,” Sandberg and Golder said. “What we can do is be as transparent as possible, share best practices, and learn from one another – recognising that policies will evolve as we gain experience.”