A Positive Approach to Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual harassment training

Sexual harassment training doesn’t need to be about scaring the heck out of employees. Instead, why not inspire them to bring their best selves to work every single day? That’s the goal of the sexual harassment prevention workshops that we lead.

Go Beyond the Usual Sexual Harassment Training

A typical sexual harassment prevention class tries to accomplish the following:

  • Teach employees what sexual harassment is.
  • Stop employees from harassing one another.
  • Make sure employees know where and how to report problems.

While these are all worthwhile objectives, there’s not much evidence to suggest these lead to the achievement of what should be your ultimate goal: A workplace that is safe and respectful for everyone.

This traditional compliance training focuses too heavily on “You better not do any of these things or you’re going to be in big trouble.” In other words, comply or else.

The problem with this approach is that it unnecessarily rattles people who aren’t likely to harass a coworker. The employees who are more prone to bad behavior don’t take the workshop seriously and are unlikely to change their behavior because of it.

That outcome strikes me as a lose-lose scenario. You can do better.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Employees

That is why we’ve developed two new harassment prevention workshops. Both take a positive approach to the subject. Instead of being all about what people shouldn’t do, we teach and inspire people to take positive action.

We want your employees to realize they collectively influence their workplace culture. They have the power to make it safer and more respectful for everyone.

sexual harassment training cover

The first workshop is for your frontline employees and is called, 7 Ways You Contribute to a Harassment-Free Workplace. It suggests positive actions anyone can take.

1. Know the rules

It’s possible some people are unaware of what good and bad looks like. Your employees should know this because it helps them understand their rights and creates a common set of behavioral expectations. If you want to make sure people know your policy, this is when that will happen.

2. Set high standards

If employees settle for “don’t break the law” as their behavioral standard, you can still have an awful work environment. Imagine how the workplace changes if most employees raise the bar to “be respectful and kind.” That’s the sort of standard that changes culture.

3. Stick up for yourself

It’s possible some people lack awareness about their behaviors or the impact those behaviors have on others. The best way to solve this problem is to teach employees how to respectfully and firmly tell harassers to “knock it off.” While this won’t always work, it has the potential to make many people reconsider how they behave and change their ways.

4. Get help when needed

According to the EEOC, 75% of sexual harassment incidents go unreported. This might not be a big deal if more people use #3 and get positive results. But what happens when #3 doesn’t work or isn’t an appropriate response to harassment? Then the best approach is to involve the right people. We’ll make sure your employees understand their options, why speaking up makes sense, and help them overcome their hesitation.

5. Champion respect

Think about times when you noticed inappropriate behavior. It wasn’t directed at you. None of the people present seemed concerned by the behavior. And yet, you knew it wasn’t consistent with your company’s vision of a safe and respectful workplace. You may have also had the opportunity to help someone who was being harassed. Both cases provided an opportunity to jump in, raise your concerns and be a champion for respect.

6. Apologize

Humans make mistakes. Misunderstandings occur. When that happens a heartfelt apology can go a long ways to restoring better working relationships. Unfortunately too many people make other choices, and those choices make the situation worse. Saying you are sorry needs to be a common practice in all workplaces.

7. Forgive and move on

Your coworker behaved badly. You called him on the behavior. He apologized and began treating you the way you asked to be treated. Now what? You aren’t likely to forget what happened, but that doesn’t mean you can’t forgive the person and make an effort to rebuild a professional working relationship with him. Holding on to the resentment doesn’t benefit anyone.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Managers

Managers have additional responsibilities when it comes to creating and maintaining a positive workplace. This second workshop starts with all the material in the employee version, after all, managers are employees too.

It then explores four key responsibilities managers must successfully fulfill.

1. Define expectations

While we can ask all employees to raise the bar for their own behaviors, some may choose to still shoot lower than we want. Your leaders are the ones that can regularly clarify expectations so that employees better understand what is and is not okay.

2. Monitor environment for sexual harassment

Your leaders can only deal with problems they know about. Many make the mistake of assuming no complaints equals no problems. The goal here is to teach them how to keep their eyes and ears open not only for policy violations, but even risky behavior which could eventually create problems.

3. Proactively intervene

Managers need to know that once they become aware of something, it’s their responsibility to take action. If they wait until there’s a formal complaint, the problem will more likely be harder to resolve. Early intervention is the best intervention.

4. Act on all sexual harassment complaints

Finally, when employees do report problems, your managers have to know what they should do to make sure the employee feels heard and respected. They also need to understand what their resources are so that they respond effectively. One key goal for this is to ensure your managers report the issue to HR and/or senior leaders.

Use E-Learning Solutions to Comply with Each State’s Sexual Harassment Training Laws

As more and more states pass laws that mandate sexual harassment training, it’s important your training meets the requirements of the state in which your employee’s work.

Some states have mandated covering specific information in training. Others have mandates the training’s length or frequency.

As of today, the states where training is now mandatory includes: California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, and Maine.

Did you know Connecticut now requires 2 hours of anti-harassment training for all employees?

Did you know Illinois requires specialized training customized for the bar and restaurant industry?

Did you know New York City has laws which add to the requirements that are defined within New York State’s law?

When your employees are scattered across the country, we recommend using an e-learning solution that is tailored to each state’s unique requirements. We can help you with that training too.

Need Help Setting Up Sexual Harassment Training?

If you’ve never rolled out this sort of training before, you’re probably not sure where to start.

You have questions and we have answers in our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Implementation Guide for HR Managers. Or if you prefer, download a copy in PDF format.

Sexual harassment training guide

Let’s Work Together

These workshops can be delivered “as is” if you wish to focus only on sexual harassment training. These days, that’s a popular choice.

They can also be customized if you’d like to broaden the topic to all the prohibitions covered in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or build in your organization’s specific policies and industry-related examples.

The first step is to have a phone conversation so that we can understand your goals and specific requirements. Once we have that, we’ll send you a no-obligation proposal for your project.