Protecting Your Organization Against Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is a significant and all-too-common problem that can impact any organization. Companies of all sizes need to be proactive in taking steps to prevent workplace harassment and to immediately put a stop to any harassing behaviors that may occur.

Harassment Prevention is Critical

In the 2014 fiscal year alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination. During the same timeframe, employers were ordered to pay $296.1 million in monetary relief prior to litigation. This does not include legal fees or relief ordered through litigation.

These statistics should make it clear that no organization is immune to workplace harassment. They should also make it easy to see why preventing workplace harassment is greatly preferable to dealing with the problems created when it is allowed to occur. 

Management Training Is Key

Having a strong harassment prevention policy is an important starting point for companies that want to reduce risk associated with workplace harassment. However, the fact that your company has a policy does not mean that harassment won’t occur.

Supervisory harassment prevention training is critical, as having managers who are properly trained to recognize workplace harassment and who know how to properly respond to potentially harassing behaviors can be a company’s best protection against workplace harassment.

Conversely, managers who are not properly trained pose a high risk. They may allow risky behaviors to occur because they do not fully understand what workplace harassment is or mistakenly believe that certain types of behaviors are fine as long as no one complains.

Effective Supervisory Harassment Prevention Training

Not all harassment prevention training for mangers is equal. Effective supervisory harassment prevention training needs to include several key elements. At a minimum, supervisory training needs to include:

  • A thorough explanation of your company’s harassment prevention policy
  • Exactly what characteristics are protected (hint: there are 11 as of 2015)
  • Definitions of quid pro quo, hostile environment and retaliation
  • Real world examples of situations that represent workplace harassment and retaliation (obvious and non-obvious)
  • Key factors that create liability for the company and its managers
  • How to respond to a compliant (formal or otherwise) of workplace harassment
  • How to recognize situations that may require HR involvement
  • Additional key information relevant to harassment prevention

Protect Your Organization

It is a mistake to assume that having a policy alone is sufficient to protect your organization against the risk of workplace harassment. Ongoing supervisory sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors should be included in every company's risk management efforts.

Ideally, supervisors should complete harassment prevention training every year. Being able to demonstrate that the company is in the habit of effectively and frequently training its supervisors on this important issue can go a long way toward demonstrating that your company takes harassment prevention seriously and that steps were taken to prevent harassment from occurring.

Schedule Training for Your Group

If you’d like to schedule harassment prevention training for your company’s supervisors, MTI Business Solutions can help. Our experienced, expert trainers can deliver interactive, engaging supervisory training focused on what supervisors (at all levels) need to know about workplace harassment. We offer on-site training at any U.S. location as well as webinar or audio conference training sessions. Contact us at 251-478-6848 or training@mtibusiness.com to schedule training for your group.

About The Author: 
Mary Gormandy White, M.A., SPHR is co-owner of MTI Business Solutions, where she provides HR, management and leadership training and consulting services for clients throughout the U.S., including the Everything DiSC suite of assessments. She is an Everything DiSC Certified Trainer.