Sexual harassment has recently become hot button topic in the media. No one has been exempted from allegations in the wake of the scandals in Hollywood, and on Capitol Hill. The US congressional leaders have even called for stricter sexual harassment training in Washington. US House Speaker Paul Ryan has claimed that “Each of us has responsibility to ensure a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We can and should lead by example,” as reported by the New York Times.
Unfortunately, according to the Society for HR Management, “plenty of leaders don’t grasp what behaviors constitute sexual harassment, don’t understand the prohibitions against it or don’t care. The result can be a tarnished executive and company as well as expensive civil lawsuits.”
One thing that can be learned from these high-level scandals is that, for the longevity of any company, there needs to be an implementation of sexual harassment trainings for leaders. Everyone needs to be accountable and on the same page to promote a positive workplace and company culture.
Three key points to focus on to effectively implement sexual harassment training into leadership training and from there into other trainings are making sure it identifies with everyone involved, providing a set of clear guidelines and expectations, and an ongoing focus on behavior over roles.
Make training relatable and applicable to everyone
If those in leadership positions can’t relate to the training on a personal and professional level, they will be less likely to take it seriously. This leads them to become less likely to adequately pass on the objectives of the training, or do so dismissively. This cavalier attitude and consequential breakdown of communication will completely undermine the training.
That is why it is important that the training is something that pertains to everyone, because if sexual harassment training isn’t taken seriously by managers it won’t be by anyone else either. This creates a toxic environment that is poisonous to a company’s culture.
One way to fix this problem is by retiring dull, textbook style reading and lectures, or the outdated practice of watching mandatory videos. Role playing, discussion groups, and other interactive training methods are tools that can engage employees and cultivate sympathy for victims of harassment regardless of their position in a company. The more people recognize the accessibility of their options and the expectations the better they will implement what they are learning in the training.
Provide clear guidelines and expectations
It is important to realize that not only are people unique, but they interact differently with others depending on what is involved. No one can prepare for every factor that is involved in every scenario. However, HRMorning.com suggests that, when companies give their employees the basic tools they need, “they’ll be much more likely to know how to respond” when situations arise.
These tools include specific procedures and channels that are available for anyone to use if they have experienced an incident of misconduct, designated advocates who are there for those who have felt victimized at work, and even approved public meeting places so junior executives and top-level executives can meet up outside of work if necessary.
Ongoing focus on behavior over rules
With most training programs, metrics are generated to monitor how effective they are. These metrics could include the number of complaints filed as a reflection of the efficiency of the training. Be careful while enforcing the rules—the metrics aren’t about the rules themselves. Instead, the focus should be directed to the desired behavior that the training hopes to inspire.
As an alternative to counting the number of complaints filed to determine the efficacy of the training, consider surveying employees anonymously to get a clearer picture of how things have become. By giving precedence to how employees feel about the implemented training over the number of complaints it promotes a healthy workplace culture.
With the current focus on sexual harassment, being proactive and training leaders along with the other employees is a great way to generate positive buzz. Beyond the positive corporate buzz, it will also show employees they matter because everyone is being held to the same standard perpetuating a positive workplace culture.
Source: Business 2 Community