What’s Not in Your Social Media Policy—But Really Should Be

Social media platforms can be an invaluable tool to build a brand and drive business. But without a clear policy in place, your company risks at best embarrassment and at worst legal action against it should an employee engage in illegal activity.

Management and human resource professionals may not be aware of everything that should be covered by a social media policy, given how fast things are moving. While new platforms are being created all the time and are constantly morphing, there are a few evergreen guidelines you should be emphasizing in your social media policy.

Evergreen Guidelines:

Remind employees about the line between personal and professional.
The majority of the workforce has grown up with social media of one kind or another, and has used it for just that: social purposes. Whether they like it or not, however, their personal public posts can have an impact on their careers, particularly if they list your company name in a personal profile. Employees must remember they are brand ambassadors in any public context and behave with professionalism.

If it’s confidential, it doesn’t belong online.
It should go without saying that any proprietary information needs to remain internal, but you can’t depend on common sense to rule the day. Be explicit in your policy, and you can avoid losing business because of employee indiscretion online. Likewise, a company should encourage employee complaints or conflicts to be properly addressed away from an online audience that includes customers, partners or competitors.

Training is key.
In addition to a clear policy, employees should understand the terms of use for all the social media platforms in which they are engaging. If one of your employees violates the site’s terms of use, conditions and/or limitations, this violation affects not only the employee but may limit your company’s ability to use the site in the future. Profanity, cyber bullying and posting any offensive material all fall into this category.

Syntrio’s Social Media Ethics course provides employees at all levels an overview of social media, guidelines on using time and resources wisely, and concrete examples of conflicts of interest and offensive posts. It’s a great way to efficiently start a conversation about an increasingly important aspect of ethical behavior in the workplace.


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 harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content
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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.


 

Retaliation Claims are on the Rise: How to Avoid Them

As reporting on suspected wrongdoing reaches historic highs, 2017 saw a 100 percent increase in retaliation claims. The 2018 Global Business Ethics Survey uncovered this shocking statistic. Driving the higher numbers are social and demographic trends, along with expanded employment laws at the state and federal levels that provide expanded protection of employees against retaliation.

The onus to prevent it, under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, is squarely upon the employer, making it illegal to fire, demote, harass or otherwise retaliate for these reasons against either job applicants or employees. Retaliation can be stealthy and difficult to catch, so employers must be diligent and methodical in efforts to prevent it.

There are several critical elements to doing so:

Ensure a robust policy and documentation process is in place.
Policies must be highly defined and regularly communicated to everyone in the organization. And the moment human resources or any member of management hears of a complaint, they must document every single detail—everything contained in the complaint, every action taken by the company, and every conversation had with other employees.

Maintain confidentiality while investigating and resolving a complaint.
The more members of the organization who are brought into the discussion, the more likely it becomes that someone will make a comment or take an action that could be construed as retaliation. Limit the players to those immediately involved, and stress strict confidentiality to each.

Work with both sides of the complaint.
Emotions run very high when misconduct is reported. When an employee files a complaint, take it seriously and with discretion, treat them with respect, and let them know the organization will not abide retaliatory behavior. At the same time, realize the employee against whom the complaint is filed will probably be quite upset and defensive. Remind him or her of what constitutes retaliation and its potential consequences for the company.

Training is imperative.
In recent years, legal developments have significantly broadened the scope of anti-retaliation protection and lowered the burden for establishing unlawful behavior. This has given rise to the spike in retaliation claims and has made them much more difficult to defend. It is critical to educate managers and supervisors.

Syntrio’s 45-minute course, Preventing Unlawful Retaliation, discusses the protections afforded to employees under various employment laws. Using scenarios and case studies, the course discusses the types of work-related activities that are protected by law, the types of behavior that can lead to a charge, and the risks of failing to take steps to prevent unlawful retaliation in the workplace.

 

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 harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. 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.


 

Five Ways to Prevent Workplace Violence

As Workplace Violence Prevention Month draws to a close, all employers should be thinking about ongoing efforts to understand what workplace violence looks like, how to recognize and diffuse potentially violent situations, and how to prevent them in the first place

Every year, 1 in 4 full-time American workers become victims of workplace violence, but it can be prevented with a considered approach.

A critical first step is a zero tolerance policy for this behavior against or by anyone associated with your place of work. This means employees at all levels of the organization, as well as contractors, clients and customers, and visitors.

To be able to recognize workplace violence hazards, communicate OSHA’s definition of “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”

It’s also extremely important for employees to have an avenue to report incidents. Management must encourage workers to communicate openly with them and report any concerns without fear of retaliation.

Establishing an emergency response plan for events such as a violent intruder or a disgruntled former employee is also a sensible step, provided it is communicated well and regularly. Where possible, reach out to local law enforcement to help with staging mock crisis exercises.

Finally, there is no substitute for regular training. Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid tragic and costly incidents associated with violent acts in the workplace.

Our Preventing Workplace Violence course covers the following:

  • Types of workplace violence
  • Risk factors for violence
  • Behaviors and physical warning signs of potentially violent individuals
  • Violence prevention policies and procedures that help reduce the incidence of workplace violence
  • Steps to protect you and others in situations of an active shooter
  • How to respond appropriately to threatening or violent situations

We can custom tailor our courses to fit the specific needs of your business.

 

 

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 harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. 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.


 

Silicon Valley’s VC Casting Couches

Silicon Valley’s VC Casting Couches

"Everyone has heard of Hollywood’s infamous casting couches. Recently, it seems like they are springing up in the Silicon Valley."

The Floodgates Are Opening

Over the last couple of months, there has been a slew of revelations about alleged sexual harassment claims from Silicon Valley companies, like Uber, forcing the unexpected resignation of its CEO, Travis Kalanick. Interestingly, multiple sources have cited that top venture capital firms who were invested in Uber demanded Kalanick resign.

This is slightly ironic, because, in the same time frame, there were Silicon Valley VC firms getting blasted by female entrepreneurs for alleged sexual harassment and misconduct while seeking to fund their businesses. Just last week, over two dozen women in the tech industry working with Silicon Valley VCs have gone public with their allegations in a New York Times article (June 30, 2017), "Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment."

One female entrepreneur spoke of being propositioned by a Silicon Valley venture capitalist while seeking a job with him. Another showed the increasingly suggestive messages she had received from a startup investor. One CEO described the multitude of sexist comments she received from an investor while raising money for her online community.

High-Level Fallout

Ten of these women identified specific investors and VC firms and were able to corroborate their collective stories with emails and text messages. Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups are two of the alleged perpetrators. Chris Sacca published an apology letter and Dave McClure stepped down from his leadership role.


Learn more about Syntrio's Preventing Harassment Training.


These women came forward not long after The Information broke the story on Justin Caldbeck’s co-founder of Binary VC firm and multiple allegations (six in total) of sexual harassment from women seeking investments in their entrepreneurial startups.  Major investors behind Binary Capital were leaning towards not funding a $175M second investment. Justin Caldbeck has resigned from the company. Interestingly, he had been accused of sexual harassment in two other VC firms where he worked.

Unanswered Questions

What drives this behavior? Why does this predatory behavior continue to happen and flourish? What allegations will come to light next? While we may never be able to answer all of these questions, one would have to believe there is some level of cultural acceptance of the behavior.  On the bright side, this spinning flywheel of stories of being shared might be the catalyst necessary to drive some true change in the VC community.

For a couple of years now a group of 30 venture capitalists have been drafting a code of conduct for members of the industry that will set clear standards for unacceptable behavior, such as sexual harassment of founders, and will outline penalties for violators. Part of the code includes a retaliation-free reporting channel for women who experience sexual harassment. This group plans to present the proposed code of conduct to the National Venture Capital Association (www.nvca.org) by September 30, 2017. The code also recommends creating a list of “bad actors” and “good actors,” based on their treatment of women and minorities.

Separately, the Caldbeck revelations have prompted at least two VC firms, including Upfront Ventures, to extend their internal sexual harassment policies to include relationships between VCs and founders. Two other firms, IVP and Foundation Capital, say they’re considering doing so. Sexual harassment laws apply to the traditional employer-employee relationships but not to startup founders raising money from VCs. According to The Information, of roughly a dozen VCs contacted last week, just two said their company guidelines prohibit sexual harassment between VCs and founders as well as between employees.

It seems shocking that this can be the case, but it does help explain how some of these alleged transgressions could have occurred.

These revelations of alleged sexual harassment and the work to establish a code of conduct for VCs could be the impetus for true change in that industry, especially if the NVCA can support, market, and reinforce this code through its association.

 


 Do you have questions about your current anti-harassment or code of conduct training program? Contact us and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Darin Hartley, M.Ed., CPLP Fellow, Director of Marketing, Syntrio

Follow Up: Uber Board Member Takes Exit 666 on the Highway to Hell

Highway to Hell: Uber Gives 20 Employees the Last Ride Amid Claims of Harassment and Discrimination

Straight from the soundboard of rideshare giant Uber’s greatest rock and roll hits comes a remix to the compliance cover of AC/DC’s classic rock song “Highway to Hell.” Uber took the aforementioned “Exit 666” when its board member David Bonderman made a disparaging comment about women during an Uber meeting last week.

During the meeting, fellow Board member Ariana Huffington discussed the positive impact that can be made on a board of directors when one woman joins a board. In response to Ms. Huffington’s comments, Bonderman replied “[a]ctually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking . . .” Unsurprisingly, nearly everyone in attendance reacted negatively to the comments, which came hot on the heels of Uber’s dismissal of over 20 employees and corresponding sabbatical taken by its CEO.


Learn more about Syntrio's Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Training


Although Bonderman was quick to apologize for his remarks and the board asked for his resignation quickly, the fact that the comments occurred at all demonstrate that the culture at Uber has not changed and is unlikely to do so in the near future. The ideal situation would involve Mr. Bonderman being replaced with another female board member; however, Bonderman’s company will play a large role in deciding who fills the seat. Given the company’s significant financial interests in Uber it is likely they will exercise significant discretion in filling Bonderman’s vacant seat and not necessarily limit their search to female candidates.

The dramatic shift in public perception caused by Uber’s string of public relations blunders surrounding it’s apparently misogynistic tendencies demonstrate the need for compliance officials to take a greater role in shaping the policy at large corporations. As noted in last week’s piece, when companies demonstrate a free-wheeling “bad boy” culture there are bound to be compliance problems flowing from the top down. Rather than remix classic hits and misses, it is time for Uber and other companies to get back into the studio and come up with material that is progressive, forward thinking, and will keep companies out of the courtroom and negative public eye.

 

 


 Do you have questions about your current ethics and compliance training program? Contact us and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Jonathan GonzalezEsq., Senior Counsel for Syntrio