All companies, big and small, need confidential advisors to handle sexual harassment

Obligate every company, no matter how small, to have a confidential advisor where employees can report sexual harassment and other transgressive behavior. Mariette Hamer, the government commissioner for sexually transgressive behavior, said that to NOS on Wednesday.

One in six employees faces undesirable behavior from their colleagues or managers. Half of the organizations don’t have a confidential adviser they can turn to. Hamer previously stressed the importance of confidential advisers, saying that enough hotlines alone won’t solve this problem. Transgressive behavior is deeply rooted in workplace culture, said Hamer. Confidential advisers can play a significant role in fixing this.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will debate a GroenLinks proposal to make it mandatory for all companies to have confidential advisors on Wednesday. Several parties are not enthused by the idea. Coalition parties VVD and CDA, for example, want an exemption for small companies. They worry that a confidential advisor would be too expensive.

But GroenLinks is specifically against exempting small companies from this obligation. Problems like sexual harassment are more challenging to discuss in small companies where everyone knows everything about each other, according to GroenLinks.

Hamer agrees with GroenLinks on this point. “You all know each other there. If you don’t have a confidant there, you don’t have anywhere to go with your story. That’s very unsafe,” Hamer said. It is essential that all employees have somewhere to go in all cases, Hamer said.

Hamer is a bit surprised with the opposition to this proposal in the Kamer, especially because employers’ organizations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland support it. She hopes the GroenLinks proposal will get majority support today.

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