How the #METOO Movement has shed light on the need for difficult conversations–LRN Podcast with Tom Fox

February 8, 2018 Marsha Ershaghi Hames

The #METOO movement has surfaced a national conversation around sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace. #SilenceBreakers were profiled as the TIME person of the year, spotlighting how a shift in the power of the narrative has forced difficult conversations about workplace conduct and the responsibility of those in positions of power.  Whose responsibility is it? Is the role of senior management and the board of directors evolving around accountability? In this podcast episode with Tom Fox, I explore these issues and practical steps for E&C practitioners to enhance their strategy.

Trust levels in institutions are at an all-time low. 

With public opinion no longer willing to tolerate the bad behavior, social and cultural norms in and outside the workplace are maturing towards change. I’ve had a front seat to a lot of industries and note the discomfort in broaching this topic. While companies do have codes and policies concerning sexual harassment, there is a gap between putting the policy into action and creating and fostering a culture that makes the workforce comfortable with raising any issues. And when the workforce is brave enough to speak out despite this erosion of trust, no one is listening or willing to take action. Low trust stems from lack of organizational justice, inaction and complacency.  After all, why bother reporting misconduct if no action will ensue?

All Hands on Deck

The research indicates that training alone is not enough to rebuild cultures of trust. Compliance officers are exploring more integrated strategies that go beyond training—to a renewed focus on boards, the C-suite, and the targeted functions of workforce. Board and C-Suite accountability is one of the top areas for reform.  The headlines point to the reputational damage and individual cost in many of cases. To scale trust, you have to start at the front line. Considering nearly 60% of misconduct is escalated to front-line managers, companies need to double down their efforts to ensure this audience has practice in #LISTENUP skills, and having difficult conversations. Compliance & Ethics practitioners should collaborate with cross-functional stakeholder groups, including HR, to build integrated messaging that supports a safe, ethical workplace that encourages speaking out. For more on this, my blog post, The Value in Having a Difficult Conversation, provides some practical guidance for practitioners and the three elements of an effective approach: culture, training and accountability.

Click here to learn more about our course curriculum related to the topic of workplace sexual harassment and to download a free infographic on how to foster a culture of respect.

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