The workplace is supposed to be a place where coworkers can gather together to collaborate toward a common goal. But all too often, that collaboration turns into some form of sexual assault or harassment.

In fact, according to a CNBC report put out last year, one in five people have fallen victim to some sort of sexual misconduct at work.

Understandably, this figure may have you shaken, especially if you’re looking to take a more progressive branding approach. The best way to combat misconduct in the workplace is to understand it and better define it.

So when it comes to the difference between assault and harassment, where is the line drawn? Read on for info on sexual harassment vs. sexual assault and how you can prevent both.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is quite tough to define, as technology has taken a once solely physical act into the digital space. However, sexual harassment may be defined as any number of unwanted sexual advances.

From unwanted flirting to asking for sexual favors to making crude remarks about a co-worker’s body, harassment can be tough to catch since it’s so nebulous as a concept.

Focus on one word from our definition, though: Unwanted.

Harassment is more than friendly ribbing or a joke among colleagues. It’s unwanted words or actions where one party preys upon another.

Sexual Assault

According to the United States Department Of Justice, sexual assault may be defined as,”…any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent.

Again, this is where the term ‘unwanted’ matters.

However, in contrast to sexual harassment, sexual assault is acting upon those threats. This may include disturbing behavior such as rubbing up against a colleague, groping them, or worse, rape.

It’s important to note that every workplace has their own standards for misconduct, including the difference between assault and harassment. As a result, the scope or harassment and assault both may be more broad or narrow depending on company guidelines.

What You Can Do To Prevent Both

First and foremost, if you or a colleague you know are the victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault, contact the police immediately followed by a lawyer. There are many excellent sexual harassment lawyers in your state who would love to help you find justice.

Then, file a report with your company’s human resources department.

You as a CEO can take action to increase preventative measures in the workplace.

Work on a clear definition of what your company considers both harassment and assault. You’ll want to make everyone within your organization aware of these terms.

In addition, give employees resources. Take steps to help them remain anonymous so they’re not afraid to speak out.

Sexual Harassment vs. Sexual Assault: Final Thoughts

To wrap things up, let’s look at the difference between sexual harassment vs. sexual assault once more.

The former includes direct, physical action whereas the latter tends to be verbally directed. These terms are vague at best, so we encourage you and your team to work on better definitions.

Your actions as a CEO can have a tremendous impact on your company’s culture, and a better workplace starts with you. Don’t forget, you set the precedent.

Be sure to check back with our blog for more insights on how you can grow your business and lead your employees to success.