Does your business culture actually support discrimination and harassment in the workplace? If so, how can you make meaningful changes and limit your liability? Take a lesson from Dickens: Scrooge’s three ghosts represent choices and their consequences: (1) the past that has shaped a business culture, (2) the present climate of awareness, forward momentum, and change of which you can be a part, and (3) the future that you will certainly face if you are in denial and fail to implement reforms.
Some employees who have reported sex harassment–and many women who have participated in #MeToo–have claimed that their employers knew about the harassment but chose to do nothing. When employers ignore allegations or fail to conduct adequate investigations that: (1) determine credibility, (2) make findings of fact, and (3) hold perpetrators accountable, discrimination and harassment can continue–and even escalate–potentially increasing the number of victims. Ignoring it altogether sends the wrong message: that your business or organization will not only tolerate discrimination, but that misconduct won’t result in proportional and effective disciplinary action. This leaves your employees in a particularly vulnerable position and can perpetuate a cycle of discrimination, such as has been described by Harvey Weinstein’s multiple accusers. It can also increase your liability risk.
If, like Scrooge, you have made less-than-stellar choices in the past and you feel stuck in the present, take a peek at the day’s news–where you’ll surely learn what the latest accusations are, against whom, and who’s resigning now. This is your best glimpse into the future if you continue to ignore the imperative to change your business culture! Make a New Year’s resolution to take charge. Be proactive and make a plan before the ball drops! According to the EEOC, a robust and meaningful harassment prevention program should consist of: (1) committed and engaged leadership (2) consistent and demonstrated accountability; (3) strong and comprehensive harassment policies; (4) trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and (5) regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.
If you and your HR Department need guidance and assistance, consult an employment attorney to help you develop policies and practices that give more than just lip service to the five core principles of an effective harassment prevention program. Happy New Year!
HR Department need guidance and assistance, consult an employment attorney to help you develop policies and practices that give more than just lip service to the five core principles of an effective harassment prevention program. Happy New Year!