Is your company prepared for a potential increase in the reporting of harassment due to the social momentum and heightened awareness generated by the #MeToo empowerment movement?
There has never been a better time to review your organization’s training strategy in this critical area. You only have to look at the Wynn Corporations losing 18% of its value following sexual harassment charges against the company CEO, to know that these behaviors can escalate into an existential threat to an organization’s survival.
As we have seen many times in the news, a company culture which tolerates harassing behavior is vulnerable to law suits, bad publicity and a decline in share price. However, companies also need to contend with other pervasive, but less publicized consequences of unchecked harassment, in productivity, morale and employee engagement.
If you are planning to review your organization’s policies, practices and approach to harassment I would l would highly recommend an excellent video resource created by David Schwimmer, the actor who you may remember as Ross on the television classic Friends.
Schwimmer and his co-creator Sigal Avin, the Israeli director and screenwriter, are “on a mission to make sure everybody knows what sexual harassment looks like and what to do about it.”
They have recently posted 6 short training videos which are unusually sophisticated and nuanced in their portrayals of the psychological complexities of harassment. There is also a companion annotated script available which provides a comprehensive analysis of how a seemingly friendly interaction can escalate slowly into an episode of harassment.
The production values of these films, and the intelligence of the writing, provide a useful resource for companies wanting to do training which aims higher than the type of simplistic “check the box” program which often results in employees rolling (or closing) their eyes.
We are living in a time of accelerating change with shifting definitions in what constitutes harassment. In addition, social media have provided individuals with many powerful tools to publicize infractions.
In today’s multi-ethnic and multi-generational workplace, it is more important than ever for management to foster an authentic, and culturally sophisticated, dialogue about the importance of respect in the workplace.
Harassment training, designed to be more than a compliance exercise, can help facilitate this dialogue.
It can become a vehicle for organizational improvement in companies with the courage and leadership to discuss the issues honestly and to cultivate work environments which bring out the best in people.