“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Based upon our last alert, you should by now have given thought to your company’s anti-harassment policy and what steps you need to take to strengthen it and communicate it to staff. Next up: Training. It isn’t enough to have a policy on paper that is circulated via an email and then forgotten. Involving employees in an active and participatory anti-harassment training program heads off the all-too-human tendency to “read it and forget it” or worse yet, not read it at all.
The makings of an effective anti-harassment training program aren’t particularly complicated, but do require a commitment from management to implement and follow through. While an effective training program can be costly, even the most expensive will never exceed the cost to a company that winds up on the wrong end of a harassment lawsuit, both in terms of potential damage to its bottom line and to its reputation. Money spent on effective training is invariably money well spent.
First - Determine any specific anti-harassment training obligations required by local, state and federal laws – requirements may differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Second – No exceptions. Everyone from top-level management on down attends training. Even if your locale only requires supervisor training, exceed expectations and involve all employees. Extending the training to all personnel sends the message that the company will not tolerate harassment from anyone at any level.
Third – Focus on engagement. Whether training is in person or through webinars or some other type of e-learning, make sure that active participation is required, with responsive activities and opportunity for Q&A. Dispense with any passive programs that feature outdated PowerPoint slides or anti-harassment videos from the last century.
Fourth – Cast a broad net. Make sure that training covers not just the most outrageous and egregious examples of sexual harassment, but the more subtle varieties as well, including inappropriate language, jokes, and gestures. Nipping the “small stuff” in the bud can prevent more serious breaches of policy down the road and head off major problems before they happen.