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In the midst of all of the justifiable community outrage, and big policy discussions around gender, diversity, culture and the role of HR in combatting sexual harassment in organizations, there is a multitude of voices straining to be heard. They come from business leaders, asking what it is their organizations can do today to begin to solve this problem and to keep it at bay. Some are even asking-could this be happening in our organization without us being aware of it?
What can HR professionals do to address this problem?
- If your leaders have not yet approached HR for solutions, share information with your organization’s executive leadership on the potential negative impact of failing to address sexual harassment risk, and how HR can help. SHRM has many resources to help you do this.
- Ensure that your organization’s culture is supportive of respect, dignity, transparency and trust. Work with your leadership to reinforce awareness of and professional activity consistent with these agreed-upon, shared cultural norms and values.
- Review your current training on sexual harassment and harassment in general, and the organization’s strategy for delivering this training.
- Is the training up to date?
- Does the training contain the right information and activities to make it engaging and effective?
- Is training delivered to every employee, including executive leadership, or are some team members exempted?
- Is training and communication around harassment prevention championed by leadership, or is it seen as a waste of time or a legal requirement alone?
- Utilize your trusted resources in HR to ensure that your organization’s training is complete, timely, useful and effective. SHRM provides its members useful resources like sample training decks for Sexual Harassment Training for Employees and Sexual Harassment Training for Supervisors to help you get started.
- If you don’t have the capacity or expertise within your organization, consider bringing in consulting assistance to help you start off 2018 with an effective game plan for combatting sexual harassment and other forms of harassment in your organization, and setting yourselves up for a successful year.
I encourage all of my HR colleagues to be ready to use our knowledge and understanding of business strategy, risks, culture and talent management to help our organizations thrive through creating environments of transparency, trust and respect, and providing training experiences that result in genuine learning and greater understanding among the workforce. It is only through commitment of executive leaders, HR professionals and managers working together that we will be able to foster genuine change in the toxic environments of secrecy and abuse of power that have resulted in the widespread experiences of sexual harassment that have been recently brought to light.