Like many Americans, I watched the senate hearings yesterday. The testimony by both individuals was heart wrenching. I found myself thinking about inappropriate behavior that I had witnessed and heard about in my lifetime. When I was in college, I had no idea what sexual harassment was. I never heard the term until I entered the workforce and began to teach Sexual Harassment Awareness. Every person where I worked was required to attend the training. I remember vividly the Chief Financial Officer of the company where I worked approached me after the training and shared with me that every senior executive could be accused of harassment. I knew that, there was a lot of inappropriate behavior in the workplace and no one seemed to care.
Every workplace has an obligation to educate their workers and create a safe environment for their employees. New York State recently passed a law requiring employers to have a sexual harassment policy and to provide sexual harassment awareness training annually.
It is recommended that all employees complete the interactive training before January 1, 2019.
There are two types of sexual harassment; quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo is easy to understand, this for that. If you have sex with me, I will give you a promotion. Creating a hostile work environment is a bit harder to define. Is flirting with someone at work wrong? Is giving a co-worker a compliment or a hug taboo? It depends. Is the behavior welcomed? When the behavior is not welcomed, it could be considered creating a hostile or uncomfortable work environment. Sometimes, co-workers don’t even realize that their behavior is unwelcomed.
If you or your employees are having a hard time determining what kind of behavior is inappropriate and/or unwanted, use the following questions as a guide:
Would I want my behavior to be the subject of a column in the company newsletter?
Is there equal power between me and the person that I'm interacting with?
Would I behave the same way if the person I'm in a relationship with were standing next to me?
Would I want someone else to act this way towards a person I'm in a relationship with?
Is there equal initiation and participation between me and the person I'm interacting with?
If you are interested in scheduling Sexual Harassment Awareness training for your staff or you need help developing a policy, give me a call today at 845-294-7089. Don't wait until you make headlines!