Case Study: Sexual Harassment Prevention

word cloud image depicting hand with words stop harassment inside

 

Case Study: Sexual Harassment Prevention

Yesterday we discussed the importance of actually doing something about the problem of workplace harassment once a company becomes aware that the problem exists in its organization. Although we like to work with companies to ensure they promote a culture of inclusion and positive interaction before there is a problem, we realize this is not always practical. Therefore, today we discuss (with the company’s permission on the condition of anonymity) the past, present and future of sexual harassment prevention.

I was first assigned to “Q-Corp” in 2008 when a partner at my law firm was away on leave. At the time Q-Corp was a prospering company with approximately 150 employees. The executive who contacted me was (like myself) a graduate of a “fun” university where he had been a member of a fraternity and seen enough stories to fill a book. We had a brief conversation, had lunch, and played a round of golf on a Saturday to discuss the problems that were going on within his organization. The executive told me that he had promoted a culture of “work hard play hard,” and that there was a lot of in-dating going on within the office. For example, an administrative assistant was engaged to marry her boss, mailroom filers were sleeping with higher ups at weekly happy hours and drug use was rampant within the company. All that said, things were actually going well, as profits were high, bonuses were good, and the employees enjoyed the benefit of weekly parties and what he thought was a “fun” working environment.


Check out Syntrio's Anti-Harassment Training


I explained to my contact that I had seen this type of environment before, and been a part of it myself long before I became an attorney. I warned the executive that maintaining this type of culture is a powder keg ready to explode. After a few conversations, the executive trusted my advice and asked me to develop a plan to make a sea change in the way things were done, starting with formulating a sexual harassment prevention program (my first custom job).

It is very important to understand that harassment prevention programs are not one-size-fits all. In some companies with rigid cultures and strict environments, bland rounds of simple “check the box” training can do the trick. But in most companies there is either a culture of “rowdiness” that is not going to be receptive to that sort of training, or there is going to be resistance to any sort of training at all. With Q-Corp skewing far to the left side of the spectrum I just described, I knew I needed to speak to its employees in a language they would understand. So I devised a presentation that engaged the employees in behavior they had found normal, but changed up the roles somewhat. Within minutes many members of Q-Corp’s staff were offended and outraged at seeing some of the behavior from other points of view.

From there, we developed custom manuals and breakout training sessions, and worked with Q-Corp’s employees to actually teach them that the company had to mature in order to continue its rate of success. Not everyone made it, and the company lost a number of good employees who defected to competing business who maintained a “fun” environment. But Q-Corp survived, and was a success story on making an entire organization aware of the dangers of harassment within the workplace, from the executive level down to the mailroom employees. Although the administrative assistant did marry her boss, this was the last example of a Q-Corp employee dating a supervisor, and to date the company has never faced a harassment lawsuit.

There are a number of important points in the Q-Corp case study that cannot be fleshed out in 700 or so words. For that reason, we invite you to join us in a three-part webinar series on the prevention of sexual harassment in your workplace, which is set to begin on January 23, 2018. Each webinar will be brief, at just 30 minutes in length, and you can be sure to learn tips and tricks that will prepare your company to make positive changes for the future.  CLICK THE IMAGE TO REGISTER.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance), and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of conflicts of interest within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

Sexual Harassment: Self-Awareness is Key, but Only Half the Battle

 

Sexual Harassment: Self-Awareness is Key, but Only Half the Battle

Every morning a new celebrity name scrolls across the bottom of the television screen or appears in your twitter feed; and every morning the headline is the same: “XXX celebrity has been accused of sexually harassing co-workers and has been terminated from his employment.” Suddenly sex sells again, and sexual harassment has finally been put to the forefront of national media attention as the serious problem that it is.

As the number of allegations in Hollywood and Washington D.C. mount, we find lay pundits questioning why this is happening at such a high rate and constantly hammering the perpetrators in op-ed articles and television talk pieces. It is almost as if they do not realize that harassment and discrimination allegations are the #1 source of corporate litigation in America, and have been for a great many years. So now that celebrities are being accused we are self-aware. But what about the millions of women (and men) who are working in hostile environments across the country. I’ve still yet to see large-scale reports on EEOC statistics or attempts at increased awareness for “regular” employees (who make up the bulk of victims of sexual harassment in U.S. workplaces).

There is no doubt that awareness of this significant problem is a good thing. But perhaps more important than awareness is finding actual solutions to the problem.  For years, men have been in positions of power in corporate America, which created the foundation for incidents of “quid pro quo” (“this for that”) incidents of sexual harassment. Likewise, for the better part of sexual harassment laws’ existence men have dominated the workforce overall, leading to an imbalance ripe for hostile working environments that have provided us with the potential for classic examples of catcalls toward the one woman working in the mill. But the workforce is changing, so why haven’t corporate cultures?


Check out Syntrio's Anti-Harassment Training


For the past ten years I have been working closely with companies of all sizes to prevent them from incidents of workplace misconduct that can lead to costly lawsuits. Having gotten to know different types of cultures within different industries, the overwhelming common theme that prevents companies from making true cultural change is a resistance to admitting that there is a problem for fear of upsetting the proverbial apple cart.

Until we have the opportunity to provide statistical and monetary analysis to high-level executives showing the actual costs of harassment they are always resistant to digging in and making true efforts to change their culture. But this is always the wrong approach, as a single incident of sexual harassment in the workplace can easily cost the company millions of dollars in verdict and/or settlement and opposing party attorneys fees.

I would be lying to you if I told you that I never had a client sued for sexual harassment. However, we have developed a proven method for reducing incidents of harassment in the workplace, and therefore can unequivocally say that those companies that have worked with us have demonstrable success in largely preventing these types of lawsuits across the board. With that in mind, Syntrio strongly urges you and your representatives to join us in a series of three webinars in 2018 providing the overview of a plan for changing your culture in the hopes that you will work with us to eliminate harassment in the workplace. The first such webinar will take place on January 23, 2018, and you can register for it by CLICKING HERE OR ON THE IMAGE BELOW.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance), and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of conflicts of interest within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio