Businesses Scurry to Address Sexual Harassment

The tsunami of sexual harassment claims since media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace has prompted many businesses to examine the ways in which they deal with workplace misconduct.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. And while many organizations provide sexual harassment training and have policies on the books to deal with reported cases, victims of the unwanted advances have been slow to come forward until now. As accusations from across the workplace emerge—including government, entertainment, and industry—organizations are taking action to prevent more harassment from occurring.

Vox Media has hired an outside firm to review its sexual harassment reporting procedures. Uber has added staff to deal with reports of misconduct. House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for House members to provide sexual-harassment training for their staff.

Even companies that so far have not experienced incidents have made moves. Dell, Rockwell, and Facebook are encouraging employees to attend training sessions meant to identify biases that can lead to sexual harassment. Boardroom directors—who typically do not deal with sexual harassment unless an incident requires their input—are taking proactive measures. A former CEO for Reuters, who sits on several boards, says organizations should not wait for “grotesque” examples of sexual harassment before checking their own corporate culture.

However, worries about overkill are emerging. Some men have become intimidated enough to avoid conversations with female co-workers, which could keep these women from learning about important job-related opportunities.

Nevertheless, the systemic culture that has excused egregious behavior seems to be under the microscope, and that’s good news for all involved.

Discussion

  1. Aside from firing sexual harassers, what can organizations do to promote a workplace free of such behavior?
  2. Should coworkers who witness a colleague being harassed proactively report the situation to authorities?
  3. What can be done to eliminate the tacit tolerance of sexual misconduct?
  4. Why do companies fire problematic workers or managers almost instantly after allegations surface instead of waiting to exercise due process under the law which means that an accused is innocent until proven guilty?

From the Wall Street Journal

 

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