Beyond #MeToo – 5 Considerations

1. Rewards and recognition. Like other workplace behavior, you should be thinking of rewards and recognition. Consider acknowledging employees who treat each other with respect. Encourage employees to speak up when they see or hear something (good or bad) and acknowledge them when they do it. Reward positive workplace behavior as well as performance.

2. Training and beyond. Training should be specific to your work environment and organization’s needs. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Focus on behavior – all the behaviors you want to prevent. Training shouldn’t be limited to the legal stuff. Have senior management present, visible and actively participating in the training. Beyond formal presentations to all staff, engage managers to leverage teachable moments when they occur and incorporate those moments into staff meeting discussions. 

3. Segregation. There are also reports of organizations isolating (or contemplating isolating women from men – prohibitions on women and men traveling together or sharing rental cars, or excluding women from off-site meetings or events such as lunches. LeanIn and Survey Monkey surveyed 2,950 employed adults to measure the impact of widespread media reports of sexual harassment. Nearly half of male managers said they are now uncomfortable working alone, mentoring, or socializing with a woman. These are not solutions to workplace harassment and such actions can have the consequence (unintended or otherwise) of discriminating against women

4. Non-Fraternization policies. Are you willing to police employee’s personal relationships and enforce such a policy? Things to consider if you do want a policy that addresses employee dating:

  • Do you want to restrict dating altogether, or put some common-sense guidance for employees in place?
  • Do you want to restrict dating between direct reports? Employees in the same departments?
  • Do you want employees to notify a management representative when they enter into a romantic relationship? When they break up?

Regardless of the approach that is best for your organization, do let employees know – through training and discussions – that when employees are involved in relationships outside the office, there are risks and the potential for problems that can occur.

5. Alternatives for reporting harassment. Technology is bringing us apps – among other medium – to enable the anonymous reporting of workplace issues, especially harassment. Proponents argue that it will raise management’s awareness by alerting them that there is a problem. An opposing view is that while it’s good to know there’s a problem, a vague report may not provide sufficient information about the nature of the problem. Thus, an appropriate investigation to get to the root of the problem may not be able to take place. 

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