Anti-Sexual Harassment Training Needs to Start with This…

March 22, 2018 Marsha Ershaghi Hames

Effective anti-harassment training programs focus on two main elements:

  1. They establish a single ethical standard of behavior across all levels of a company, and
  2. They examine the intent and emotional impact of potentially harassing behaviors.

LRN’s Marsha Ershaghi Hames was invited as a guest compliance expert author for, a news source for 239,000 human resources managers and executives. In her article, she explains that business leaders have the power – and responsibility – to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse in the workplace, especially through their anti-sexual harassment training.

For such training to have an impact, she explains, the dialogue needs to start around the role and accountability of leaders in modeling the organization’s policies and decision-making. This builds credibility, transfers responsibility to those who are shepherds of the corporate culture on the ground and promotes ongoing opportunity for healthy dialogue.

A key first step toward building a more equitable work culture is training leaders early on about the universal standards that everyone in the organization are held to, from the workforce, through middle, senior and top management.

Unfortunately, as the headlines prove, most training programs have focused heavily on laundry lists of specific rules and forbidden behaviors.  There has been too little attention given to the underlying causes and enablers of harassment. The most effective anti-harassment training programs look deeper: They raise awareness of right versus wrong behavior by exploring the nuances behind practices and behaviors that lead to sexual misconduct.

At LRN, we have two potent examples of training programs that help to create a single standard of behavior in the workplace when it comes to harassment. One develops managers to adopt a zero-tolerance stance on sexual harassment and coaches them on how to navigate the power inherent in their positions responsibly. Another promotes greater skills around listening up, encouraging both employees and supervisors how to be allies to, and supporters of, victims of harassment. For example, LRN has a series of conversation starters on difficult situations such as how bystanders and observers of harassment and discrimination can be better informed and empowered to take action.  Take a look at LRN’s guidance on how to be an “ALLY” to victims of harassment.

Organizations that demonstrate more transparency around their procedural justice practices can build greater trust in the system and promote more speaking out. Taking action, rather than paying lip service to the “company’s commitment,” really matters.


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