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Can your organization afford a harassment charge?

Harassment in the Workplace seems to have taken on a life of its own lately. So how do we prevent it and get a handle on it. Fines are being handed down almost weekly from the EEOC to misguided employers who don’t seem to have a clue how to change the culture.

It starts with education, then accountability and unfortunately there are always a few who live in the past, not understanding that their behavior has to change. That is when the employer needs to step in and make some crucial changes.

When I first started teaching the Harassment in the Workplace training for my employer I was floored by the comments I would get from women that I was powerless to respond to with any sense of reassurance. They were everything from…”you don’t know what it is like” to have to put up with it or lose your job…to “there is no such thing as non-retaliation”...”it is subtle and under the radar, but they can make your life miserable”.

I didn’t know how to respond to the concerns of women that I felt a sense of pity towards. I tried to empathize but being raised with five older sisters I could not imagine a man treating a woman like an object and subjecting them to that kind of inhumane treatment.

Well, in a timely fashion, with all the news surrounding harassment, the EEOC has just come forward with a report from a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. They identified five core principles that they say, have generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment. These five principles are:

  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.

They offer checklists based on the five principles that can assist employers in preventing and responding to harassment complaints. If you feel you need assistance with reducing or preventing harassment at your organization it is high time to reach out and get professional help for your workforce. They will be much more productive without the harassment (and bullying, which is part of harassment) and morale will improve, resulting in overall increases in productivity.

In mid-October of 2017 the EEOC handed down a fine of $125,000 against an employer in a sexual harassment case, along with other mandates and a reputation that will tend to ruin future recruitment for the organization. Can your organization really afford that?

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