Examining the Effectiveness of Harassment Training

Much ink has been spilled debating the effectiveness of legalistic (and formulaic) anti-harassment training. Nearly everyone agrees that grouping employees in a room with a 1980’s era VCR/television combination unit and playing a video recorded by a corporate lawyer with little or no training on preventive practice is the wrong way to conduct harassment training, unless the only aim is to “check the box” for legal defense enhancement purposes. In the wake of the #MeToo movement not only has there been an increased number of states requiring harassment training, but also an increased backlash from employees who are being force-fed training they feel is out of touch and overly legalistic.

So what to do?

Measuring and Reinventing Sexual Harassment Training, a new article that appeared in Bloomberg Law, has taken note of recent research about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of anti-harassment training. In the article, the author notes a recent study that revealed companies are afraid to take measures on the effectiveness of harassment training because they are afraid of what the results might reveal. This type of approach is no longer acceptable in an era where harassment of all kinds receives heightened scrutiny. Providing methods of training that actually change culture is essential to creating a workplace that is devoted to respect and inclusion, and failing to develop methods to gauge the effectiveness of training is tantamount to doing nothing at all.

Syntrio has long taken the approach that legalese and lack of engagement are taboo in workplace harassment training. We believe strongly in a blended learning approach that is not over in just one hour, once every two years. Instead, implementing a learning continuum and combination of training methods is the best way to affect actual change in employee behavior, rather than scaring them about legal damages or trying to change beliefs, which has been proven impossible.

A recent study showed that on college campuses where students and employees were trained about the tactics they can use when witnessing acts of sexual violence, members of those communities became empowered to do something about it. This same approach is critical to helping stop workplace harassment, and is a major reason why Syntrio’s courses put heavy focus on what co-workers and managers can do when they hear of or see incidents they believe could amount to harassment (or even inappropriate behavior that does not meet the legal definition of harassment).

The Bloomberg article cites the need for harassment training from a number of perspectives in order to lead to greater inclusion. When organizations refuse to train their employees on perspectives that are at odds with their values or beliefs they demonstrate that they are not inclusive, and are not organizations that tend to attract or retain the best talent. Therefore, it is imperative that training include perspectives on harassment that go far beyond the traditional “male to female” approach that is taken in so many e-learning courses. Syntrio wholeheartedly agrees with this approach and has incorporated a number of diverse perspectives on the topic into its courseware.

While there may not be a quantitative method to measure the effectiveness of harassment training, there certainly are a number of qualitative and social science methods to determine if the program you have implemented works. By staying ahead of the curve and ensuring that you are using a method that works for your organization you are far more likely to create and maintain a culture of workplace respect and tolerance rather than harassment and abuse.

College Graduations mark the end of “The Year of Sexual Assault”

As spring came to an end a few days ago and the calendar transitioned to summer, and that transition ends another season of college graduations filled with speeches of hope for the future. Unfortunately, this past academic year was marred by challenges for students, as a rash of sexual assaults on campus plagued women across the country. Therefore, many of the speeches were reflective on the negatives of the past 11 months, rather than inspiration for the future. But with the problems on college campuses comes a new hope that new laws like the Campus SaVE Act will reduce the number of sexual assaults and violent campus crimes going forward to 2015-2016 and beyond.

Training Programs Essential to Avoidance

Studies have shown that educational training programs have a positive impact on reducing the number of sexually violent crimes on college campuses. Accordingly, last year the federal legislature amended the Jeanne Cleary Act to enact the Campus SaVE Act, which included several new training requirements to be imposed on institutions of higher learning.

Some of the training requirements include instructing students and faculty on what constitutes domestic violence, and how to stop it. Moreover, students and faculty are to be provided training on how to implement programs to promote positive bystander intervention, such as going out in groups and keeping a close eye on campus colleagues when social situations call for it. Finally, training courses teach students and employees how to “date smart” within the campus community and always be prepared for the possibility that a potential mate may have ulterior motives that could lead to violence.

Burgeoning Movement of Survivors Speaking Out

The past year has shown an increase in the number of sexual assault survivors on campus becoming activists for the cause to prevent other women from falling victim to such crimes. However, since student life on campus is only 4 years these strong women must eventually graduate from campus and become alumnae. Therefore, it is extremely important to teach student leadership and the fact that it is perfectly okay to discuss experiences (good and bad) while training students that it is okay to keep reported incidents confidential if the student or employee feels that is the course of action they would like to take. Again, awareness is education.

Syntrio is committed to reducing the number of sexually violent crimes on college campuses by institutions of higher learning while maintaining compliance with state and federal laws and commitment to the utmost ethical standards. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our prevention of campus violence courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your facility!


Recent High-Profile Campus Incidents Highlight the Need for Increased Prevention of Campus Violence Training

Three high-profile Title IX lawsuits against major universities in recent months highlight the lack of training taking place on college campuses across the nation. All three incidents involve sexual misconduct on the part of college athletes. Clearly, not enough is being done to curb this sort of behavior, which sadly only gained notoriety due to the visibility of the students accused of the misconduct. Make no mistake, failing to train your students and employees on the dangers of campus violence is not only dangerous, it is also against the law.

By way of background, the Campus SaVE Act amended the Jeanne Cleary Act to require additional reporting measures and education of students and faculty on all college campuses that receive federal funding. Similarly, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (including harassment and violent crimes) on all of these same campuses. As such, colleges and universities have a duty to educate members of their communities on the prevention of sexually violent crimes, something that sadly has not taken hold in the wake of studies and reports showing that these types of crimes are still rampant in the college setting.

The first of three recent lawsuits involves the allegations of a University of Oregon woman who claims she was gang-raped in a restroom by three members of the University’s men’s basketball team. The lawsuit also alleges that the University failed to take action until the following May. This troubling incident highlights the fact that some institutions care so much about the negative publicity that comes to light from investigating these incidents that they do nothing until many months after the alleged assaults take place.

A key highlight of Syntrio’s prevention of campus violence training and prevention of harassment on campus courses is providing members of the campus community with the tools to effectively participate in bystander intervention. Although bystander tactics will not necessarily prevent a coordinated gang-rape scenario like the one discussed above, they will provide groups of students with better preparation to stop a potential assault before it starts. Had the basketball players accused of assaulting the Oregon woman been better prepared it is possible that the incident may never have occurred.

A second incident of group assault led to a lawsuit against Vanderbilt University. There, a member of the school’s football team has been accused of involvement in a gang-rape of a female student. This time the accused blamed the school’s culture of “sexual freedom” for allowing him to become involved in the incident. While this excuse is extremely skeptical, it does bring to light the need for highlighting an institution’s policy against sexually violent crimes.

Yet another highlight of prevention of campus violence training courses is education about each individual facility’s mission and culture of preventing crimes against women. By educating faculty and students about the policies of the school for reporting crimes and potential incidents of rape, stalking and domestic violence, members of the community are better prepared to identify the signs of these types of crimes before they occur. Reduction in violent incidents is the goal of Syntrio's training courses, and it is critical that students and faculty are aware that while a school encourages “freedom” and “open-mindedness,” “freedom of sexual violence” is never permitted.

Finally, in perhaps the most high-profile incident of campus violence over the past two years, former Florida State Quarterback (and Heisman trophy winner) Jameis Winston’s accuser has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the University. Winston is accused of sexually assaulting an acquaintance in December 2012. After a lengthy investigation the University determined that Winston did no wrong. The woman’s lawsuit alleges that the University did not do enough to investigate the incident. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), when the allegations broke, Florida State’s football team was ranked toward the top of the polls and ultimately won the 2013 National Championship, leading to speculation that the University either covered up Winston’s culpability or hid its head in the sand.

Acquaintance rape is one of the most common forms of campus violence, and is a focal point of Syntrio’s prevention of campus violence course, as well as its higher education harassment prevention courses for employees and management. Indeed, acquaintance rape is especially dangerous because it is often under reported. All too many women are victimized when things go too far, and educating men and women as to the need for explicit consent prior to engaging in sexual activity is crucial to prevention of sexually violent crimes.

Syntrio developed its prevention of campus violence and campus harassment courses with the sensitive nature of the topics discussed in mind. Indeed, the goal of all of our campus programs is to reduce the incidence of campus violence while maintaining compliance with the various state and federal laws. We can help train your students, faculty, and upper management to identify the risks and signs of sexually violent behavior and lead to a more positive campus community.

Contact Syntrio for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your business!