Sexual harassment training has been around for awhile, yet workplace harassment remains a huge problem for business leaders and HR teams to tackle. As movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo have raised the profile of this problem, we're bringing you the top four reasons you should look for a training program that inspires real behavior change in your workplace.
So why should you train your team?
Most of us have a horror story to tell about a sexual harassment training we’ve been forced to sit through. For our more seasoned readers, it was probably a VHS tape discussing how it’s inappropriate to grope your junior employees. For those newer to the workforce, it may be an online module where you had to click through a seemingly endless series of quizzes. It all seems so tedious and obvious - until something happens. And something inevitably happens.
How do you make the case for quality, interactive sexual harassment prevention training before something happens? How do you convince your supervisor or your finance team to spend X amount of your budget on in-person training?
Allow me to begin building that case for you.
In the year following the viral explosion of #MeToo, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) caseload doubled. In 2018 monetary damages paid out by employers increased from $47.5 million to $70 million. Also, it's important to note that these numbers do not even include the cases brought by private attorneys. Employees are increasingly aware of their rights and they are starting to hold their employers accountable. Sexual harassment and the workplaces that breed it are a financial liability.
I think we can all agree that litigation is expensive and avoiding it is advantageous.
Maintain a Healthy & Engaged Workforce
Employees who are harassed (or witness harassment) often experience both physical and mental health issues. These can spill over into the workplace through absenteeism. It can also appear as presenteeism, when employees show up to work but are distracted.
In environments where harassment is normalized, productivity decreases whether your employees show up to work or not. It is key to think proactively about how you cultivate a safe and respectful environment for all, whether that's through trainings, keynote presentations, or meaningful conversations with employees.
Establish Your Team
Almost 70% of harassment incidents are never reported to an employer. Employees are afraid they won’t be believed. They don’t want to be blamed for what happened. They also fear retaliation, both socially and professionally. Instead of reporting, employees often leave the company.
Due to lengthy hiring and on-boarding processes, employee turnover can drain corporations of time, money, and resources. The tricky part for employers is that when employees leave an unhealthy work environment, word can spread like wildfire through avenues like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. It can become challenging to recruit valuable talent when a significant culture disruption occurs. But bringing in sexual harassment prevention training can help establish your expectations for all employees, not just new hires.
Build Your Brand
In 2017, engineer Susan Fowler wrote an incendiary blog post exposing Uber’s issues with sexual harassment. As a result of this post and many other reports, Uber experienced a significant decline in its stock prices, advertising revenue, sales numbers, and consumer loyalty. People want to patronize companies that provide a good product and are known for being good to both employees and customers.
What do you want to be known for? What are your core values? How will they serve as a guide to building a brand that emphasizes safety and respect for all?
The frequent temptation for companies is to invest the minimum amount of time and money on sexual harassment prevention training. While convenient, it often doesn’t get to the root of the problem which is how we view and treat one another. Whether your staff is experiencing harassment issues or not, employees want to know that you are invested in their well-being. Videos and online modules are a start, but open discourse leading to deeper respect and understanding of one another’s boundaries is essential. And an in-person, interactive sexual harassment prevention training is truly the best way to foster inclusivity and understanding.