In the year since allegations of sexual abuse forced Harvey Weinstein out of his own company and sparked the #MeToo moment, it appears that people in power are changing their behavior, according to new data from SHRM.
One-third of executives (32 percent) say they have altered their conduct to avoid exhibiting behaviors that could be perceived as sexual harassment, more than half (51 percent) say they have become more aware of their behaviors at work, and even more (53 percent) report being more cautious about their interactions with others in the workplace.
While 72 percent of employees say they are satisfied with their company’s efforts to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, more than one-third still believe that their workplace fosters sexual harassment.
A hypersensitivity to the issue could result in negative implications for the workforce, however. SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, says, “We can’t let the pendulum swing too far. Organizations must be careful not to create a culture of ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ and we cannot tolerate other unintended consequences.”
Additionally, executives surveyed believe that the most effective ways to influence workplace culture to stop sexual harassment and foster a safe environment are enhancing HR’s ability to investigate allegations without retaliation, conducting independent reviews of all workplace misconduct investigations and increasing diversity in leadership roles.
Allison West, Esq., SHRM-SCP, SPHR, AWI-CH, is a highly sought after human resource expert witness, attorney, investigator and trainer. West has handled several high-level executive harassment investigations and also conducts workplace training. She delivered training at CBS after Charlie Rose was fired from “CBS This Morning,” and she was interviewed in December on the issue:
“It all starts at the top,” says West. “You can have all the rules, do the training, but if management doesn’t take harassment prevention seriously, then everything is harder.”
What is your organization doing to empower HR, increase awareness and education, and create a healthier culture so that sexual harassment is much less likely to occur?
Q1. What conversations should HR be initiating about sexual harassment in the workplace, and how should they be starting these conversations?
Q2. How has your organization changed (or how is it planning to change) sexual-harassment policies or training in light of the spotlight on this issue over the past year?
Q3. How can organizations empower their HR teams and enhance HR’s ability to handle sexual-harassment complaints in the workplace?
Q4. How can HR create complaint procedures and environments in which employees are safe from retaliation if they raise or corroborate concerns?
Q5. What are the best ways to assess whether there may be a culture of complicity with sexual harassment in your workplace?
Q6. How has this (the issue of complicity) created a chilling effect in the workplace toward the exclusion of women, and what can be done to counter this?
Q7. What steps do you take to figure out the facts of a “he said, she said” investigation? Assume there were no eye witnesses to the alleged inappropriate conduct.
Q8. In addition to annual mandatory sexual-harassment training, how can HR provide ongoing education and reminders about behavior and reporting mechanisms, as well as assurances of nonretaliation?
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SHRM presents a special 3-part video series in which we engage in national conversations on three significant issues in today’s headlines that are having a real-life impact on employees and employers every day: the skills gap, employment-based immigration and workplace harassment. Join the #WeAreWork conversation on sexual harassment.