Harassment – It’s Time to Ask Yourself These Questions
By Karen Bender, SPHR-SCP, CEBS
Every time we turn on the TV or surf the net lately, we are seeing headlines about poor conduct by people in power in the workplace. Harassment? Incivility? Bullying? Discrimination? Which is it? Does it really matter how you label it? It is illegal, extremely expensive, and very damaging to your organization if tolerated.
Is this type of behavior happening in your workplace? Maybe you can quickly say “yes”. Maybe you are hesitant to say “no” because you are not 100% sure. Perhaps you heard something that made you uncomfortable, but you decided not to deal with it and now you are wondering – should I have done something? Was that incident I observed something that could get us into trouble? (Hint: You may want to listen to your inner voice and be prepared for the next incident that you become aware of.)
What can you do to protect yourself and your company? Do you want to be in compliance, but don’t know where to start?
Start right here by asking yourself these questions:
- What kind of a message does your culture send in terms of how people are treated? Are they treated with respect?
- Do all levels of leadership demonstrate the proper behavior? If the answer is “no”, then why not?
- Do all levels of leadership address improper behavior demonstrated by others? Again, if the answer is “no”, why not?
- Do you have a clear policy? Do you follow it? Do you enforce it?
- Have you trained employees on how to recognize harassment and what unacceptable behavior looks like?
- Have you trained leaders on how to recognize harassment and their role in preventing it?
- Are there proper reporting channels for employees who have concerns? Do the employees feel safe making a report of harassment?
- Once a report of harassment is received, is an investigation conducted in a fair and thorough manner on a timely basis?
- Have you appropriately disciplined someone who has been guilty of harassment?
Federal and Wisconsin law do not require harassment training. However, they do require that an employer provide an environment free of harassment and comply with all employment related legislation, much of which deals with how employees should be treated. While training is not mandated, it may be the best way for an employer to ensure compliance with the laws. However, it is not sufficient to simply train the employees occasionally and then do nothing further. You must create an environment in which you demonstrate your intent to provide a harassment-free environment.
If you are interested in learning more about this training and bringing it to your worksite, reach out to Karen Bender at Hausmann-Johnson Insurance (www.hausmann-johnson.com