Posts Tagged ‘SHRM’

Five Provocative Recommendations to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual Predators can attack in a variety of places, but as an HR professional, I am most disconcerted about abuse in the workplace.

The slew of women coming forward and sharing their experiences with director Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment, followed up by the “me too” social media campaign where millions of women have like wise shared being victims of sexual predators, has truly opened up the discussion around this sensitive topic. Women have been sharing their horrific experiences at the hands of sexual predators in various settings – at home, on the streets out in public, while on dates and even in the workplace.

As a human resources consultant, I find the stories of unaddressed sexual harassment in the workplace particularly upsetting. Women face tremendous risks, placing their livelihoods in jeopardy by reporting sexual harassment in the workplace, especially if it is at the hands of a powerful executive.

One of my close friends posted on Facebook in her “me too” entry:

When I reported the incident and spoke to the woman in HR, her response to me was : ” Oh, I know him…he would never do that!” A report was never filed.

Recently another close friend who I used to work with, an outstanding sharp junior executive, shared of an ongoing pattern of abuse from a senior executive who was so powerful that HR was slow and hesitant to address it. The result was early retirement and needing counseling for depression.

The number of women coming forward to report the abuse at the hands of film producer Harvey Weinstein is astounding. (photo – Business Insider)

Just maybe it is time for some drastic “out-of-the box” measures in corporate America to address this epidemic. Here are my five provocative recommendations:

1) All corporate boards of directors should institute strong policies that dictate that any sexual harassment charge be taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly, especially those against senior level people. And boards must personally take on this critical task and not delegate to internal management.

2) All corporate boards of directors should institute strong policies that protect all human resources practitioners from retaliation for thoroughly investigating workplace harassment charges, especially those against senior level people.

3) Any senior executive proven to have engaged in sexual harassment should be immediately discharged with all stock options and retirement benefits revoked. And to go a step further, those financial resources could be denoted to organizations addressing sexual abuse and harassment.

4) Any HR practitioner who does not take a harassment charge seriously and tries to minimize, excuse it or refuse to investigate it should have their SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) certifications (PHR – Professional of Human Resources) or SPHR (Senior Professional of Human Resources) revoked permanently, and even revocation of SHRM membership should be considered.

5) Any privately held companies without boards of directors that perpetrate a culture of harassment as acceptable or with boards who do not take the first two recommended actions above should be “blacklisted” by SHRM as “HR unfriendly companies.” SHRM should strongly discourage HR practitioners from working for them, thereby cutting these entities off from building professional HR organizations. Also boycotts against doing business with those companies or buying those companies goods or services could be encouraged by women and men who support fair treatment of women.

With the stunning amount of sexual abuse now being publicly exposed, how can we justify not taking strong action?

My “Get Up” Blog for March – Getting Up after “Career Falls”

When corporate culture where he worked shifted away from Val Boston’s business philosophy, he “got up” to start his own consultant practice where he could be true to his values.

For the March blog as part of my monthly “Get Up” Blog series inspired by US Figure Skating’s “Get Up” campaign, I am featuring people getting up, not from from physical falls, but from “falls” or unexpected downturns in vocations and careers. The “Get Up” message inspires us to get up from the many different types of falls we can have in our lives just as figure skaters get up and continue after a fall on the very hard cold ice.

I have four short stories to share:


Adult figure skater Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn shared: “I moved to my current city for a job that sought me out. They had made promises that they didn’t keep, and hired someone else to share my position without telling me a week after I started. Three and a half months later they fired me with absolutely no explanation. But I “got up” and dove head first into full time freelance illustration (link to her website) and haven’t looked back. Four years later it is the best thing that could have happened to me, AND I was able to fit skating into my day. Before that, I would have to travel an hour to another rink (my current was just across the street from where I live and I could only skate weekends there) just to get some ice time after work IF I didn’t get stuck working late.


After moving internationally and discovering that her past experience was not really valued in the US, Noa Ronan had to get up and forge her own path as a coach and consultant.


A consultant I met at my local SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) chapter – Triangle SHRM here in North Carolina, Noa Ronan of Noa Ronen Coaching,, shared, “11 years ago I moved from Israel to the US. I had a fulfilling executive career as a change management consultant and HR and Training executive. But after our family relocation to the US reality hit me, neither my Israeli career experience nor my MBA from Israel was of interest in the US when I applied for jobs. I felt very lost and stuck; I didn’t want to apply for jobs that will take me back to what I did ten years ago or go in a different direction. I loved what I did and I didn’t want to let go of who I was in my past. It took me few good years to fall and fail again and again until I was able to “get up” and let go of the story I was telling myself about my “glorious” past and recreate who I want to be right here in the present. Today I am using all the skills I have acquired over my career with new ones, and I coach global leaders and people in transitions. Letting go of my past was about being present with my new reality and recreating a new future for myself.


And from a highly respected consultant who has been an invaluable mentor to me as I started my own business in 2010, Val Boston of Boston and Associates, LLC: “After 5 years with a global organization, they were sold to a much larger firm. With the acquisition came a major cultural and philosophical shift, from a service focus model to a more “bottom line” one. This change in business philosophy was in direct conflict with mine. I then I “got up” and decided to launch my own consultancy focusing on Diversity & Inclusion, and Leadership Coaching. That was 17 years ago!”


And another friend from TSHRM who is so supportive of my figure skating journey, Diane Olsen (link to her LinkedIn profile) shares her story of “getting up” multiple times: “After ten years building an amazing insurance industry career, where I climbed ladders, I turned down the ultimate promotion at a very large company. I decided to move cross country and go back to school, but soon found myself in a financial position where I needed to go back to work full time. I grabbed the first job that came along. When that company shut down, I job-jumped a few times while trying to finish my degree part-time. I had a roller coaster on my resume now.

Then it dawned on me that I created this storm. What was I going to be when I grew up? I didn’t get my answer until years later. I took a job in Raleigh as an Operations Manager for a start-up company, and I was employee number nine. Over the course of eight years, I built four other departments, was promoted to VP of Operations and HR, and was able to be a part of the buy-out of the company at the end of 2015. Each of these departments I created had information pulled from a lot of the in-between jobs I’d had in the past.

Sometimes, you are dusting yourself off without even realizing it. I have since left that job, taking a well-deserved hiatus. It’s a bit stressful being in transition, but exciting at the same time. Needless to say, I look forward to “getting up” and starting my next adventure with open arms.


Life, like the ice, can be very hard, with falls giving us a good jar. But we can rise up, persevere, and move onto something better.

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Links to all my earlier “Get Up” monthly blogs can be found on my skating blogs and videos blog page.

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