Sexual Harassment Training That Works

Corporate training to prevent sexual harassment often has consisted of watching a slide presentation, reading the handbook, and signing a document that says you understand the company’s policy and agree to obey it. But 2018 has proven that the #MeToo movement intends to keep sexual harassment center stage until corporate America no longer tolerates such behavior.

We started the year with a review of a roundtable on the topic as encouragement to employers to review policies and procedures around sexual misconduct. Did you take the hint? If not, here’s a gentle nudge to rethink your anti-harassment policies and your training on the subject. If your company relies on a boilerplate program or outdated training video to keep employees cognizant of your sexual harassment policy, you would be wise to consider whether you are actually communicating your expectations and requirements. When employees aren’t engaged by the training, chances are they will not remember much of its content.

In a recent post for the Labor & Employment Law Perspectives blog, attorney Carrie B. Hoffman suggested several points for consideration when assessing your company’s anti-harassment training:

  • Focus on live, interactive training rather than impersonal videos. Interactive presentations not only are more memorable, but they also let employees know that the company puts a priority on the subject. In-person training also gives employees a sense of who handles complaints and where they can go with concerns and questions. Keep the program updated to ensure that employees stay engaged.
  • Tailor the training to your workplace — office, factory, retail, etc. Make it practical, with clear explanation and examples of what types of behavior violate company policies and what disciplinary action takes place as a result.
  • Be concise. Longer is not necessarily better. An hour is the ideal length for a module, although some states require at least two hours of sexual harassment training.
  • Provide separate training for managers and non-managers. Although the basic information is the same, managers need to understand their obligations under the law when they observe harassment or receive a complaint. And non-managerial employees need to have a place to raise issues that might be awkward in front of managers. Be sure that company executives show commitment to the issue by attending the sessions.
  • Include discussion and examples of appropriate behavior. Be sure to address how to interact respectfully both in-person and by email. Consider addressing individual differences in diversity and culture as well.

As you analyze your company’s anti-harassment program, your employment attorney can advise you in how to ensure your content is current and in compliance with law. As always, we’d love to help.

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