Posts Tagged ‘workplace harassment’

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?

The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s Innovative New Anti-Bullying Campaign

Blog author Stan Kimer (in the center) with Tyler Clementi Foundation Executive Director Sean Kosofsky and Tyler's mother and foundation co-founder Jane Clementi

Blog author Stan Kimer (in the center) with Tyler Clementi Foundation Executive Director Sean Kosofsky and Tyler’s mother and foundation co-founder Jane Clementi

For this year’s annual October Bullying Awareness Month blog, I would like to introduce a new program being offered by the Tyler Clementi Foundation and rolled out through corporations and organizations. Why is this exciting and innovative? Because most Americans spend the vast majority of their waking hours on the job, so that is the logical place to roll out resources to assist in various aspects of life.

Here are four shorts questions and answers.

QUESTION 1: Who exactly is Tyler Clementi and why is there a foundation named after him?

ANSWER: Tyler Clementi (link to more of his story) was a talented teenager in his first year of college coming to terms with being gay. Without his knowledge, Tyler’s roommate secretly livestreamed him in an intimate act with another young man, and then shared the stream with Tyler’s university peers as well as the roommate’s high school friends and Twitter followers. This act of cyber-bullying was a great embarrassment to Tyler and two days later Tyler died by suicide. After processing the grief of losing their son in this way, Tyler’s parents decided to take proactive action and started the foundation to address cyber-bullying in the hopes that it can be stopped and future harm and even deaths could be avoided.

QUESTION 2: What is my own connection with the Tyler Clementi Foundation?

ANSWER: Last year, a friend of mine from Raleigh, NC, Sean Kosofsky, who is one of the brightest non-profit leaders in the country, was offered the job of being the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s first full time executive director. He returned to Raleigh in early September and helped host a reception with Tyler’s mother Jane Clementi. (See photo at top of blog.) Sean updated us on the latest programs of the foundation and Jane spoke passionately as a mother hoping to bring positive change to America’s cyber-community as a constructive way of dealing with her son’s death. Total Engagement Consulting is proud to have provided a corporate donation to the foundation’s work.

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

QUESTION 3: What exactly is this new program that the foundation will be rolling out via corporations?

ANSWER: Too much of the burden of ending bullying is put on schools. The Tyler Clementi Foundation thinks parents play a key role, and thus has partnered with Workplace Options (WPO) to offer trainings on youth bullying to parents where they are during the day: at work. This training helps educate people about whether the young people in their lives are being bullied or are bullies, and not sharing this information. The focus will be to teach individuals how to identify, approach, discuss and resolve youth bullying issues with their children, and young people in their personal lives. More information can be found on the foundation’s program page. (Scroll about halfway down the page to the heading “Workplace Options / TCF Training

QUESTION 4: Can I provide some links to additional blogs with resources I have previously published?

ANSWER: Certainly!

In last year’s Bullying Awareness Month’s blog, I introduced the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

In my 2013 blog, I wrote about the link between schoolyard bullying and workplace harassment.

In “The Macroeconomic of Gay Bullying” I write about the grave harm to a nation’s well being and economics unaddressed bullying can result in.

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