An anonymous MIT alumnus blogs about her first incident of workplace sexual harassment and offers nine salient pieces of advice. For example: 3. Know your allies, and use them; 6. Whatever you do, don’t lie to Human Resources; and 7. Protect your reputation. Most especially, her advice regarding the use of an Ombuds office is right on.
2. Your “Ombuds” office may not be an Ombuds office. Organizational Ombuds offices follow the IOA Standards of Practice—this includes most college and university Ombuds, as well as many Ombuds in government agencies and corporations—whereas other Ombuds are actually compliance officers using the “Ombuds” label. IOA-following Ombuds are designated as confidential, independent, and neutral, do not keep case records for the employer, and do not accept “notice” of illegal behavior on behalf of the employer. In other words, they can offer you options without having the managerial responsibility of performing a formal investigation. In contrast, a compliance officer does keep records, accepts “notice,” and is required to take action or see that action is taken. This critical difference determines whether you can maintain a confidential identity, control the course of the actions against your harasser, etc. Do your homework before your report to any office in your organization!