Posted by Judd Lowe ● Jun 6, 2019 1:57:31 PM

#MeToo and the Workplace: HR and Sexual Harassment Policy

#MeToo and the Workplace

shutterstock_1008863581In the wake of the #MeToo movement, HR and employee relations managers were sent scrambling.  Since sexual harassment and/or discrimination has always been under the purview of HR, it has become a necessity for HR departments to not only tighten up or edify sexual harassment policies, but it has made it requisite for HR managers to take an increasingly proactive approach to retrain staff on changes to company policies and to make the HR department more educated and accessible.  In fact, more than half of businesses surveyed in 2018 reported plans of changing sexual harassment policies and how claims are filed and dealt with.


 

Caring is Sharing

One formidable caveat that came out of the national #MeToo movement which has been heeded universally is that HR cannot solely handle sexual harassment within the workplace.  It needs to be reflective of the company culture at large, which, like most other corporate policies, trickles from the top down.  This is why HR departments are working with CEOs and other C-suite executives to plan and execute sweeping harassment policy changes.  The booming call-to-action that emanated from the #MeToo charge has gotten the attention of all executives—and that message is that women or any harassment victims’ stories are worthy of being heard and their claims immediately addressed, instead of swept under the carpet.

 

Moving Forward with the Movement

A major directive that became clear for HR was that extensive employee training is a key area that has to be beefed up.  But not only policy training—investigation training, bystander training, and unconscious bias training all have to be part and parcel of a comprehensive sexual harassment and discrimination policy.  Differentiating those behaviors that are appropriate and those that are inappropriate is the first step in holistic sexual harassment training.  Also, impressing the importance of the role of the bystander, or employees who witness or overhear harassment or discrimination targeted towards another employee, to speak up is critical. 

Lastly, identifying bias in employees’ actions using role-playing is an effective way to drive the point home that bias can be inadvertent.  As Liz Bentley, founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs, states: “The bias called out was that average men are typically seen as fixable and encouraged to try harder and even given promotions on the hope that they will rise to the occasion.  On the other hand, average women are seen as unfixable, they are given less responsibility, marked as incompetent and discouraged.

It is not only essential to incorporate these types of changes into your sexual harassment policy, but it is equally as important to track complaints and their results using metrics.  In fact, after surviving a very public media storm resulting in a massive walkout last November, Google recently agreed to release their metrics concerning harassment and discrimination claims, as well as its overall policy on harassment, discrimination, and other workplace issues. 

 

Many companies are following suit and are beginning to employ a myriad of tracking methods, such as incident and investigation trend analysis, as well as conducting surveys to capture employee sentiment and morale regarding changes to sexual harassment and discrimination policy changes as they move forward.   

 

LaborSoft’s innovative technology is one of many integral solutions that keep your business, in business. Our employee relations analytics, case management workflows, and our central repository of documentation streamlines case management to mitigate risk of operational bottlenecks, costly lawsuits, and legal ramifications stemming from HR issues and complaints. This sensitive data requires that maximum security protocols are in place and that your information is protected at all times.

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Contact us for a customized demonstration and learn how LaborSoft can help you improve communications, build a more collaborative, safe, and supportive workplace, while reducing the likelihood of costly litigation.

Topics: #MeToo, #MeToo and The Workplace, Sexual Harassment Policies

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