Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, Part II

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, Part II

This week we are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace and how teams can transform the office culture to prevent and eliminate cases. Check out our last post on the topic here. Let’s pick up where we left off.

Next, the company needs to analyze this reality and gain insight on what behaviors are encouraging a harassing environment. You’re never going to be able to change the culture until you and your employees gain the insight that is necessary to understand the culture within the company. Our behaviors are based on our habits. We are creatures of habit and between 50 and 90 percent of our day is driven by habits. Our habits of thinking determine how we engage with others. Those behaviors might create a hostile workplace. Those habits of thinking, which we all have, create the culture.

There is a generalized statement that it takes twenty one days to form a new habit. But, it takes another twenty one days, or a total of forty two days, to change behavior. Part of this is psychological and the way the mind works.

Third, you need the senior leadership and all managers need to begin to model the raised expectation of the behavior that you are expecting. And then, in order to be sustainable about that, you need to constantly be going back to this process: grasp reality, gain insight, model behavior, repeat. It will require daily activity by senior management, middle management, and employees to change habits and behaviors, and ultimately the culture.

To achieve the culture change from toleration to prevention and modeled behaviors it has to start everywhere. Too much training in this area is done by top-down fiat. Employees will attend the training, listen with half-a-mind, say all the right things, but never change their habits. To truly alter a culture, all employees have to modeling the behavior. It has to start with the lowest level employees up to the senior management. This is the only way you can address and prevent sexual harassment.

Conducting trainings is an important aspect of achieving this transformation. Company owners should have an attorney, HR specialist, or staff members in charge of training individuals to talk about harassment, discuss its features, and generate a culture that is different.

The best line of defense is to eradicate that behavior by having a solid, clear, respectful discrimination-free company culture.

In the meantime if you have any questions about Title VII sexual harassment law, please give us a call and we would be happy to have this discussion with you.