The National Academies Press recently published a Consensus Study Report titled “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” This report from the Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia provides a comprehensive view on this challenging topic and also references and supports the role of ombuds offices.
The support focuses on the confidentiality of the ombuds office and on how it connects with the organization, i.e., set up outside normal structures. “Reporting channels outside of the usual workplace hierarchy, such as an ombudsperson, who can receive reports of harassment but are not officially part of the Human Resources or management response to reports of harassment, can provide critical independent support to persons experiencing harassment.” (p 140) Further, the report highlighted that “‘having a confidential place to go can mean the difference between getting help and staying silent'” (quoting from Not Alone – The first Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, Office of the President of the United States, April 2014).
The report also concludes that “academic ombuds offices are one of the few places on campus that students [and others] can go to confidentially report an incident.” Thus, the organizational ombuds office can serve a critical role in supporting all members of a community impacted by harassment concerns. And, because the ombuds role is impartial, the ombuds can support and assist all persons involved.
Not sure where to go for help, Go Ombuds!