Stop Sexual Harassment Before It Starts: 3 Steps Your Company Can Take

b3fc8dad2890dd25d98c6c8ca4d5311e-originaHow to Fix Systemic Issues
By Jeffery Tobias Halter. It’s 2017, and sexual harassment is still making headlines.
How many millions will companies continue to dole out in response to sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuits, rather than addressing outdated policies and hostile work environments?
What’s most alarming is that high-profile cases of systemic harassment don’t even begin to cover the millions of subtle innuendos that women endure daily, that are never discussed or brought to light.
Workplace equality and safety can’t happen in an environment where women make less than men, are promoted less frequently than men doing the same job, or are penalized when they can’t stay in the office late because of demands at home.
To address these issues, three key areas must be examined. While the first focuses on the visible aspects of harassment, companies must also evaluate critical HR policies, as they can often (and unintentionally) support hostile work environments.

1) Company Culture
At the core of sexual harassment is your company culture. Every CEO must issue a zero-tolerance policy. It must be strongly worded and state that sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated and that swift and immediate action will be taken, including termination. If possible, a third party Ombuds/800 number should be established and visibly promoted. In some pending lawsuits, the company’s internal HR was actually involved in covering up the incident.
Men and women are having different experiences in the same companies. If you don’t believe me, just ask the women who work for your company about what they experience every day. What you will hear most of the time are not stories of overt sexism. What you will hear are stories of small micro-biases that are present in every workplace situation for women. For most women it is death by a thousand cuts.

2) Subjective HR Practices
People tend to hire, promote, and reward people like themselves. Unknowingly, many organizations have very subjective HR processes. Your selection process, your performance-management process, your succession-planning process, and your compensation strategy are all subject to bias and favoritism.
Are you using a rater calibration system that helps managers decide on consistency in ratings? Does your succession planning go two deep, and what does the representation of the pool look like? If you don’t see any women (or minorities), senior management needs to ask leaders why. Is it due to bias, the talent pool, or harassment (either subtle or overt)? More importantly, what are you doing to develop talent that doesn’t think, look, and act like you?
3) Ignoring the Numbers
Every CEO should ask for a report on internal workforce demographics and pay. Reviewing this information will highlight gender inequities and other gaps at the company. Consider going public with it. Last year, many large Silicon Valley firms publically stated that they are seeking to ensure greater diversity in their workforce and are revisiting their policies and procedures to attract and retain minority talent.
By fixing and rigorously reworking your HR practices, you will start to create a culture that will minimize harassment before it even starts. As companies talk and act on recruiting, advancing, and retaining women within, your culture becomes more supportive and open. These initiatives, supported by visual and vocal leadership, will go a long way towards preventing harassment issues before they even arise.
853f28be06afcda26828e837f1423158-originaJeffery Tobias Halter is a corporate gender strategist. A leading expert on engaging men to advance women, Jeffery is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company and creator of the Father of a Daughter Initiative. The former Director of Diversity Strategy of The Coca-Cola Company, Jeffery has worked with leading companies including McDonald’s, Deloitte, Publicis Groupe, GE and more. A highly sought-after thought-leader, he is a TEDx speaker and frequently talks at industry and corporate events.
Posted by MARC Catalyst on Apr 25, 2017 4:22 PM America/New_York

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