Workplace harassment is a significant issue for employers operating in the United States. Charges to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state fair employment agencies increased in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
An organization interested in promoting DE&I goals should seriously consider building and maintaining a DE&I program to keep the organization’s attention and prioritization on this important topic.
Workplace Harassment: Where are we Now?
As scrutiny of all types of harassment has increased, we find ourselves working in an environment fraught with tension and concern over an incident occurring within our workplace that could derail strides made to improve culture throughout the organization. According to a 2021 survey, of 1,215 respondents, the highest percentage of employees to report being a victim of bullying and/or harassment are women and minorities. It doesn’t take more data to conclude that we still have the deeply engrained roots of a very serious workplace harassment problem despite many employer’s efforts to combat the problem through policy and training.
Workplace Harassment: Where Should we be Going?
What has changed in past years is we are seeing a de-emphasis on corporate education as a means of compliance with mandatory training laws, and an increase on larger scale education programs aimed at improving the overall culture and mental health of the workforce as a whole. This can only be done by respecting and understanding the sensitivities and needs of what is inherently a diverse workforce with differing beliefs and interest priorities.
The concept of harassment has evolved greatly from just illegal harassment to offensive behavior of all types. For this reason, it is far more important to analyze reports of bullying as a means of learning about workplace culture and areas ripe for improvement.
Mandatory training laws miss the mark
Where employers fail their workforce is when they view education on workplace harassment, diversity, equity & inclusion and workplace civility and respect as a drain on productivity or a negative. All too often, training material and courseware is developed to comply with a set of laws merely to check a box and produce a compliance certificate and adds little to no value to the workforce, its need for empathy and compassion or the organization’s much-needed message that it cares about its employees.
Looking to add Diversity, Equity and Diversity training to your training programs?
Workplace Harassment: How Do We Formulate a Plan in 2021’s (and beyond) environment?
Gone are the days where employees will tolerate a one-hour video-based course on sexual harassment. Employees expect to derive value from the time they spend on corporate education, and employers should seek to gain something other than compliance with a law or policy when providing training to their employees.
A different approach is now required
By training your employees not just on sexual harassment, but workplace harassment of all kinds in conjunction with diversity equity and inclusion of people, thoughts, and beliefs, as well as training on techniques to improve civility and respect you are far better positioned to facilitate the cultural change that will lead to intolerance of offensive behavior in the workplace and a reduction in the potential for incidents.
By getting ahead of this process you will arm your workforce with the knowledge necessary to make changes, while at the same time informing your employees that your organization is invested in maintaining a positive culture.