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Reason Behind Sexual harassment policy: Facebook

Facebook follows a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment to keep the workplace safe, the social network’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg announced.

The power of example is also the reason that Facebook published the company’s policies on sexual harassment and bullying on Friday, along with information about how complaints are investigated when they arise. (And, at a company with 23,165 employees, they do arise, though Facebook isn’t sharing numbers.) “We don’t think our policy is necessarily the best one out there,” Swartz says. “We’re hoping to start a discussion.”

“Today 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 their policies, the more we can all learn from one another,” Sandberg said in a statement on Friday.

The social network’s policies prohibit intimidating, offensive, and sexual conduct even when that conduct might not meet the legal standard of harassment.

Swartz says that Facebook is also sharing this policy with hopes that “peers” will follow suit, so everyone can compare notes and do a better job of avoiding “the kinds of things we’re reading about.” Companies are often guarded about nitty-gritty workplace details, which is why it wasn’t that long ago that the biggest names in tech were fighting to keep the demographics of their workforce a secret. Executives might fear that sharing information will have unforeseen legal implications. Businesses might consider their policies proprietary, Swartz says, or be loathe to publish something that will inevitably require updating. California, for instance, recently approved new employment regulations regarding gender expression, requiring all the businesses in the state to take a fresh look at their guidelines.

Facebook’s internal policies on sexual harassment and bullying can be found on the Facebook People Practices website, along with details of its investigation process and tips and resources it has found helpful in preparing the “Respectful Workplace” internal training.


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