Sexual harassment: Some SPH staff ‘just don’t get it’, admits CEO as task force is launched

A number of staff at Singapore Press Holdings “just don’t get it” when it comes to what constitutes sexual harassment, its chief executive has reported, as the media firm established a task force to weed out inappropriate behaviour.

The move comes in the wake of disciplinary action against two editors at the The Straits Times for having “improper relations” with the same junior member of staff.

The task force will be set up to implement recommendations by a panel which investigated the allegations of improper conduct against the editors.

Among new policies at the media firm will be staff training to ensure all employees are aware of what sexual harassment actually means.

Chief executive Ng Yat Chung said it was clear from conversations with staff that not everyone knew its meaning.

“We will introduce appropriate training following feedback that some of our colleagues ‘just don’t get it’ when it comes to what constitutes sexual harassment and inappropriate language,” Ng said.

News of the task force was contained in a story on The Straits Times website.

According to the story, Ng yesterday told staff the incident involving the two editors – who were demoted and deployed but not sacked – raised concerns and damaged the firm’s reputation.

Today’s headline on The Straits Times website

“We need to draw a line under these incidents by addressing questions about norms of acceptable behaviour on matters such as office romance, fraternisation and sexual harassment,” he said.

Ng acknowledged that while office romances will clearly develop, management will take a dim view of a relationship between a superior and a junior that is not disclosed.

A failure to come clean is “not acceptable” and, once discovered, will be investigated and “will result in disciplinary action”, Ng said.

“We will not hesitate to take firm action against anyone- and I mean anyone – who has been found to have breached our code of conduct,” Ng said.

SPH said the task force will be addition to existing “whistle-blowing channels”, employee hotlines and reporting lines to managers and its HR department.

The task force will ensure policies on relations between employees are clear and better understood by staff in addition to providing “informal avenues” for staff to seek advice if they are faced with inappropriate advances.

In addition, it will address concerns over stress, and how to recognise the early signs.


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