How a company "fixes" its anti-harassment policy matters
June 15, 2018
As the #metoo movement gains more traction, many more companies are stepping up their game and letting all employees know, harassment of any kind is completely not acceptable.
At a recent Compliance Week event, during lunch at a big round table, one lady started explaining how her management wanted to help combat any form of harassment by creating a campaign called #NotHere.
Her immediate reaction to this was, absolutely not!
For a second I thought 'what is she talking about'? But then she explained her thoughts behind her decision and it actually makes a lot of sense.
Very simply, it's a psychological reason.
If employees and management strongly ingrain in their beliefs that nothing bad ever happens in their company, and these beliefs are so firmly held, then prejudices will not be corrected easily.
In other words, if an incident of sexual harassment were to take place, and be reported, the reaction would be that can't be possible, because that kind of thing just doesn't happen here.
And those committing unethical behaviours will continue to commit them because management believes all employees operate their daily lives under the #NotHere motto.
Behaviour continues, and the victim isn't taken seriously.
When my lunch mate explained this to us, the whole table reacted with a collective a-ha!
That makes total sense!
The intention of #NotHere was very well meaning, but how a company promotes an anti-harassment policy could end up backfiring.
It starts with accepting that anything is possible, and no company is immune.
How can workplace leaders help improve their organization's culture and perception of harassment and/or discrimination?
Believe that harassment could happen in their company, and likely already has
Participate in and present sexual harassment training sessions
Create and protect anonymous reporting channels like a whistleblower hotline
Hold HR managers accountable for enforcing policies, aiding victims and encouraging bystanders to speak up
Management needs to help build an organizational culture where people fear the consequences of not speaking up more than they fear the consequences of remaining passive and silent.