Sexual Harassment Prevention – A Pragmatic and Humane Approach

Erin Winters

Rampant revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct are testing E&C professionals to understand, prepare, and respond in a climate ripe with accusations and ambiguities. Whether discrimination, bullying, or sexual harassment, power and inequality factor into their pervasiveness and must be addressed appropriately to restore trust.

Doing so is a huge challenge for many companies. Yet companies can overcome the challenging issues by streamlining their approach when it comes to workforce education, policies, and affecting real change in corporate culture.

Simply put, harassment—and any other employee behaviors that are beyond disrespectful to the point of being morally, ethically, and legally wrong—should never be tolerated. Corporate policies should articulate zero tolerance for any form of disrespectful or hurtful behavior. More so, policies should reflect a company’s values and culture—one of elevated behavior focused on values, including respect for the individual, truth and integrity, and on doing the right thing in every and all circumstances.

Many companies are taking a fresh eye to their codes of conduct and sexual harassment policies. More than a list of do and don’t behaviors, policies should focus on the intent and emotional impact of an action. For example, policies should consider whether an action was intended to humiliate or control someone. Also, an employee might think his intentions are good, but his actions have the opposite effect.

In addition to simplifying policies, companies should offer education and training designed to help employees:

  • Model appropriate workplace behavior and set the right tone.
  • Observe the office climate and culture; never ignoring or condoning inappropriate workplace behavior.
  • Respond appropriately and timely using the tools and policies available.
  • Accept that accountability starts and finishes with managers.
  • Listen respectfully and actively to concerns while avoiding judgment. 

But education and training alone are not enough. Companies can also benefit from expert guidance on how an organization can shift its focus toward behavior and orchestrate meaningful change, as well as workshops, policy assessments and in-depth cultural assessments.

From policies, prevention training, and overall culture assessment and change, Organizations must commit themselves to elevate behavior and build cultures in which all colleagues are treated with dignity and respect. Click here to learn more about how LRN can help you on this mission.

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