Did you know that one-third of Australian workers experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past five years? Among them, women (41%) were more affected than men (26%). Additionally, only 18% of these incidents were reported, indicating an alarmingly low reporting rate.

These stats raise serious concerns because fostering a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture isn’t just morally important but also highly beneficial for businesses, people, and the Australian community. Workplace prioritising safety, respect, and equality fuels productivity, allowing people to thrive and organisations to reap the rewards of a positive environment.

The Australian government recognises this, too. On August 9th, 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission issued guidelines outlining seven crucial standards under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). And, effective from December 12th, 2023, the Commission gains authority to monitor and ensure compliance with these newly established Positive Duty standards.

So, now is the perfect time for your business to implement proactive measures and prepare for these changes.

Here, we highlight steps and measures to comply with Standard 4 from new guidelines, focusing on risk management in addressing unlawful conduct at workplaces. Take a look at this article  for the coverage of standards 1, 2, and 3.

Key measures you can implement to mitigate unlawful conduct risks

Without further ado, let’s look at the five game-changing measures that can help your company mitigate unlawful conduct risks and comply with Standard 4: Risk Management.

Identify workplace risks

Every organisation faces the risk of unlawful conduct impacting its employees. As an employer, it’s crucial to assess whether your workplace contains risk factors linked to such behaviour (e.g., gender inequality and biased treatment based on gender have been identified as major catalysts for unlawful conduct). 

Consider gathering data from past incidents or industry-specific trends to assess workplace risks effectively. That way, you can spot recurring patterns and areas that pose potential risks.

Consult your teams

Engaging your employees in workplace discussions is crucial ― their insights give a real-world view of potential risks. Furthermore, regular dialogues foster an environment that encourages open communication and ensures all voices are heard.

Here, embracing diverse perspectives is vital to spot risks a single view may overlook. Also, make sure to integrate your team’s feedback into your plan for mitigating unlawful workplace conduct risks.

Craft control measures

Once you’ve pinpointed risks related to unlawful conduct, it’s crucial to establish and enforce practical control measures. For instance, you can install security cameras or set up safety patrols to monitor potential incidents.

Same as with assessing risks, engaging your employees in crafting these measures is vital, as their firsthand insights are invaluable. Remember to clearly communicate these changes and provide necessary training to facilitate smooth implementation.

Continuously review measures

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of control measures and be ready to adjust them based on evolving risks or feedback from employees. This proactive approach allows swift adaptation to emerging risks, ensuring your policies remain strong and effective.

To maximise your efforts, consider setting specific periodic checkpoints to review how well your strategies are working. For example, they could be every quarter or bi-annually.

Maintain documentation system

Standard 4 requires you to maintain a comprehensive documentation system for managing unlawful conduct risks. This includes incident reports, risk assessments, details of control measures, and their evaluations. Outline specifics of incidents, implemented control measures, and their outcomes.

To ensure adherence to Standard 4, maintain the following records:

  • detailed consultations’ agendas and notes
  • feedback from exit interviews, surveys, and discussions with employees
  • data on unlawful conduct reports, gender equality indicators (this could include information on gender pay gaps, representation of genders across different job levels, promotions, etc.)
  • assessments of control measures’ effectiveness and evaluations.

*For a complete list, consult official Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

More than just legal obligation: Harnessing the benefits of compliance

The measures we discussed here can serve as your guidance for both complying with Standard 4 and creating a genuinely safe and inclusive workplace for all your employees. They help you fulfil legal obligations while ensuring a more satisfied and productive workforce and, thus, a better bottom line for your organisation.

And, if you need a hand in this process, Fresh HR Insights is here to lend our expertise. Contact us today to find out how we can assist in ensuring your compliance with all seven Positive Duty standards.

Your Trusted HR Advisor ready to Help you

Hello everyone, I’m Paulette, the founder of Fresh HR Insights. 🌼 I specialize in HR & Industrial Relations, and my passion lies in helping small businesses overcome HR challenges to build robust and successful enterprises. Over the past 12 years, I’ve partnered with countless business owners, providing them with invaluable expertise to navigate complex staff situations.