Have you been required to participate in an in-office sexual harassment training program, or perhaps you’ve been considering introducing one into your office? With all the incidents in the news these days, doing so is a smart move, but only if you’ve done your homework to make sure that the training you provide will be effective. Though roughly 71% of companies are conducting some form of training to prevent sexual harassment, there is a valid question as to whether all of them are are providing the lessons that are needed.
According to one study, sexual harassment training actually made it less likely that men who observed inappropriate in-office behavior reported it and made them more likely to blame those who were targeted. This obviously counterproductive effect has experts searching for what is working for and against their efforts, and they found a few important elements:
- When employees have a pessimistic view of their office environment, they are far less likely to gain anything from training sessions.
- Employees who were likely to harass prior to the training sessions left them feeling that harassment was of little consequence.
- When respected company leaders come to the training sessions and make it clear that they are onboard with the message being provided, employees are more likely to pay attention and internalize the message. Likewise, when leadership attends the training sessions, those who have been the victims of sexual harassment are far more likely to step forward and report what has happened to them.
- When companies employ more women in leadership positions, it has the effect of making the training more effective.
- Though many training sessions focus on the legal requirements and definitions involved in sexual harassment policy, studies have shown that the efforts that are the most effective focus on teaching people to recognize sexual harassment when it is taking place and to intervene when they observe it.
- Other studies have shown that training focused on strengthening civil and inclusive workplace behaviors make a positive contribution and reduce the number of harassment episodes. Workplaces that make clear how they expect employees to be treated and what they will not tolerate get the best results.
Sexual harassment is a major issue in the workplace and in our society. If you have been the target of sexual harassment and would like information on your rights, contact our office today.