This is a guest article by Kamy Anderson
Thanks to the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, there is now greater transparency on sexual harassment than ever before. More and more organizations are regularly providing preventative sexual harassment training programs to ensure their workplace is safe, healthy, and productive.
Having said that, even with training, sexual harassment at the workplace remains a major issue. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 62% of Americans agree that sexual harassment in the workplace is still a significant problem.
How can you make sure you create a safe workplace for all employees that is entirely free from any form of sexual harassment?
The key lies in proper training, not in playing a video and checking off the training boxes. You need effective training that promotes civilized and respectful behaviors towards everyone.
Here are the seven crucial steps necessary to create sexual harassment courses that foster a culture of safety in the workplace.
1. Involve Everyone – from Top to Bottom
Apart from providing training to your entire staff, you should also train your managers and supervisors. They need to know what to do if someone from your team approaches them to report an issue of sexual misconduct.
They also need to know how to prevent or manage issues of power dynamics and microaggressions, as well as be cognizant of unconscious bias.
Training from top to bottom is vital, but the message should come from the top. For example, if HR offers sexual harassment training, it may not immediately engage everyone. If a CEO organizes a meeting to explain why the training is paramount, it will carry much more weight.
So, make sure your top management explains how serious and mandatory the training is for everyone. More importantly, they should enforce transparency and encourage reporting, as well as ensure that they won’t tolerate retaliation.
2. Include Bystander Intervention Training
Bystander intervention training focuses on encouraging both men and women to intervene if they notice any misbehavior that may lead to sexual violence.
If training is focused only on harassers or victims, others that don’t relate may not engage in the training. Bystander intervention training will include everyone, helping them understand that they play a significant role in preventing and stopping sexual harassment.
Make sure they know how to recognize and prevent any unwelcome sexual behavior. You can teach them the three primary methods of this training, commonly referred to as the 3 D’s of bystander intervention: distract, delegate, and direct. Distracting a harasser enough to stop the abusive behavior, delegating the intervention to another person, or directly addressing the harassment.
3. Provide Workplace Civility Training
Workplace civility training has always been necessary for raising diversity awareness and promoting respectful behavior in the workplace.
But these days, a lot of men are avoiding women at work. They’re afraid that some women might accuse them of sexual misconduct even if there isn’t any. That’s why they refrain from socializing with their female colleagues, or even mentoring them.
Civility training should be a part of sexual harassment training to prevent this kind of behavior. It can help promote equality, inclusion, and respectful communication.
4. Tailor the Training to Your Workplace
Most sexual harassment training programs focus on a typical office environment. Someone working in a warehouse, for instance, may not relate to that kind of training. What’s more, most cases of unwelcome sexual behavior don’t even take place in an office.
They can happen anywhere, as shown in the analysis of workplace sexual harassment claims from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission). The Center for American Progress analyzed over 85,000 reports filed between 2005 and 2015, 41,250 of which contained industry information.
The findings show that most of the harassment cases happened in the accommodation and food services (14.2%), retail trade (13.4%), manufacturing (11.2%), and healthcare and social assistance (11.4%).
Therefore, when creating a sexual harassment course, you must tailor it to your specific workplace. It’s the only way your trainees will relate to the course.
5. Use a Fresh, Up-to-Date Approach
Many organizations still use outdated training videos that mainly focus on misogyny. These are the videos that were used decades ago. You can’t expect positive results if you do the same.
You need to create up-to-date training content that promotes a culture of safety in the workplace and includes everyone. It must be practical, relevant, and completely fresh. It’s too important to have it any other way.
6. Break Up the Course into Micro-Lessons
When you create your sexual harassment course, make sure you break it up into small, easily-digestible chunks. Microlearning increases engagement and helps absorb and retain knowledge faster and easier.
It doesn’t matter which training method you choose (in-person, eLearning, blended learning, live webinars). What matters is that you break up or drip-feed every session into small chunks for better, more effective learning.
7. Utilize Corporate Training Software
Utilizing corporate training software will help you easily create training programs for preventing sexual behavior in the workplace, and stay compliant with state and federal laws. You can add quizzes, flashcards, multimedia, and certificates to the courses, and enable your employees to train anytime and anywhere.
You can also monitor their progress in real-time, and harness the power of robust reports and analytics. You can even measure the performance of your training so that you can see whether or not it works. You can identify and close any knowledge gaps and improve your course content.
Corporate training software can also help you track and investigate any potential incidents. You can have a closer look at the number of sexual harassment incidents, their outcomes, and all the problem areas. That way, you can adequately handle all the issues and make sure your training is effective.
Do you want to create a safe workplace, utterly free of any sexual misbehavior, where employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity are high? Follow these tips and deliver training relevant to your industry. Promote a culture of respect for each other in the workplace, regardless of the hierarchy.
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools - currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker.
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