Sexual misconduct is a pervasive issue in the workplace. Claims for workplace harassment hit an all-time high in 2019, according to US Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) statistics. With this problem becoming so prevalent, it might seem impossible to counteract, but according to some experts, there’s a path forward to ending sexual harassment in the workplace, provided the right parties get involved and take action. Here’s what you need to know.
Making Real Progress On Sexual Harassment
In their 2019 article on the topic, Why Sexual Harassment Programs Backfire, writers Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev argued that sexual harassment programs and training are ineffective at reducing misconduct in the workplace. Their conclusion was that harassment training “makes men more likely to blame the victims” and that “men who are inclined to harass women before training actually become more accepting of such behavior after training.”
How, then, to tackle the very real problem of sexual harassment? Real change comes from the top, in many cases, so employers need to get committed to setting an example. Changing culture can change an entire organization, so a good start for any organization is to check their overall workplace attitude on harassment and abuse, then ensure those at the top are willing to set the proper tone and enforce violations of sexual harassment protocols.
Of course, that means having a stern policy on sexual misconduct is also a necessity. That policy should make clear all unacceptable behaviors, along with the very serious consequences for violating the standard. Reporting for offenses should be made simple and confidential, and each reported offense should be taken seriously and investigated fully.
When it comes to training, organizations will have to move beyond the old-school model and towards newer approaches like bystander-intervention training. This alternative focuses on getting the entire community involved on stamping out bad behavior. The training reinforces the idea that those who see something inappropriate should interfere in a way that defuses situations and helps protect those who are targets of abuse and harassments.
Finally, on the upon the above point of creating change from the top down, managerial training is also crucial to improving the workplace. Manager training should concentrate on giving those in charge the tools they need to combat harassment. Information on the early warning signs of harassment, advice on how to intervene appropriately — this all goes hand in hand with preventing such behavior from even occurring in the first place.