Convincing CEOs to Make Harassment Prevention a Priority

Unfortunately, as we heard at the HR meeting, many employers have still failed to implement the best and most effective measures to prevent workplace harassment. Traditional training that is focused on legal definitions and prohibitions of unlawful conduct is necessary but insufficient to prevent large judgments against a company and to prevent future misconduct. Written policies are often overly legalistic, not disseminated effectively, and poorly implemented. Typical corporate reporting and investigative policies and procedures lack crucial components that would make them most effective. Harassers, especially “superstars” within an organization, are often protected rather than punished, and individuals who report the misconduct of those employees may suffer unlawful retaliation. As a result, employees may be afraid to come forward and corporate leaders are unaware of the full extent of harassment in their workplaces.

To stop harassment effectively and to prevent its recurrence, employers need to create a culture of respect and inclusivity, where people feel safe when reporting misconduct, and where there are clear and immediate consequences for having engaged in harassment. Managers need to be taught skills regarding how to respond to harassing behavior in its infancy, before it rises to the level of illegal conduct, and how to respond when an employee makes a complaint. Non-supervisory employees need to be told what behavior is unacceptable in the workplace, and they must be taught skills on how to intervene when they observe harassing behavior. Leaders need to clearly and repeatedly set forth their values and expectations and hold people accountable when they contravene those expectations.

Read the full article @ Harvard Business Review

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