“It’s Not Just Fox: Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment” byThe New York Times offers some concise observations and recommendations. I responded in the comment section, but am not sure that my comment will be published by the NYT (there are already 394 comments posted), and those comments are limited to 1500 characters. The original comment is below along with a few additional points:
I have worked in the field of EEO, discrimination and harassment prevention since 1988 and have the following observations:
- Many employers lack practical protocols and deal with sexual harassment in a reactionary manner.
- Often, the individuals responsible for investigating claims of sexual harassment have not been effectively trained, lack sufficient experience, authority and the support needed to enforce policies.
- Many organizations do not hold all employees equally accountable. Whether the alleged sexual harasser is a fork lift operator or senior VP should not alter the recommended steps to be taken if ‘probable cause’ that harassment occurred is found as the result of an investigation.
- The author recommendations “Authorize dozens of employees throughout the organization to receive complaints, so that people can report to someone they’re comfortable with.” ONLY if those individuals are effectively trained to conduct confidential, unbiased intake interviews.
- Many organizations limit the duration of sexual harassment prevention training sessions to 1 hour and use webinars in place of interactive sessions.
- ‘Training’ used to punish perpetrators of sexual harassment fails. Individual EEO “Counsel and Advise” sessions that deal with the cause and effect of ones’ actions, termination is not warranted is an effective method dealing with certain policy violations.
- Employers can defend their organizations by protecting employees from discrimination and harassment.
In addition to my posted comments above, I believe that it is important that employers realize that most employees do not have faith in their organization’s EEO process. I would recommend that my colleagues in HR peruse those comments posted in response to the piece. Many individuals feel that they cannot trust their HR / EEO representatives, that their best interests come far behind those of the organization and that those best interests are not in alignment with the organization’s priorities. Organizations invest millions of dollars each year in the development of employees and ideas and then squander those investments by allowing employees to be treated in abusive and hostile ways. Most employees will resign claiming “a better opportunity” as the reason in their exit interview for fear of having their professional reputation damaged by telling the truth.
If you are not 100% positive that the policies, protocols and people at your organization are effectively preventing and responding to sexual harassment and discrimination, then use the current media attention as the impetus to make that happen.