Sexual harassment isn’t fun. One man’s – or woman’s – idea of a compliment or joke can start a mess of trouble that can cost companies big money. On January 9, 2006, the largest sexual harassment lawsuit ever, at $1 billion dollars, was filed in New York against Dresdner Klienwort Wasserstein. In 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 13,867 charges of sexual harassment; 15.9% of the complaints were filed by males.
Harassment and bullying in the workplace presents an ongoing and growing risk. It doesn’t take the threat of a lawsuit, however, to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s just good business. Tingley Rubber Corporation, a leading provider of quality protective footwear and clothing with 31 employees, has never had a sexual harassment complaint. But Nancy Jenkins, Human Resources Manager, knows that could change in an instant. That’s why Jenkins decided she needed to be proactive about providing training at her company. Says Jenkins, “The training we have heightens awareness that there is certain conduct that is not acceptable in the workplace. It reminds us that we need to be respectful of diversity and people’s feelings when we engage them in conversation.”
After comparing several options, Jenkins chose The Lindenberger Group, LLC to provide online compliance training. “Online training is more cost effective,” Jenkins said, “compared with instructor-led efforts.” The online training provided by The Lindenberger Group, LLC means that Tingley Rubber Corporation’s employees have the option to train online in English or Spanish at any time and at their own pace. Online trainees may also take advantage of Web-based course amenities, such as real-life video scenarios to improve comprehension, interactive exercises that reinforce key concepts and bookmarks. And, online training has been reported to improve comprehension and retention.
“We have several employees in several states,” says Jenkins, “and our sales people have demanding travel requirements, so it can be a challenge to set up training sessions that fit everyone’s schedules. The Lindenberger Group, LLC‘s customized e-learning programs are an efficient and convenient management tool to train our employees.” “Now that the initial implementation of this project is behind us, Jenkins adds, “I can proudly state that our entire management team was impressed with the robustness of The Lindenberger Group, LLC‘s online training. I especially like the capability to load our company logo and anti-harassment policies into the training program.”
Miele, a premium brand in the household appliance industry, is known for high end products including vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, ovens, washing machines and dryers. Miele’s workforce numbers over 15,000 in 35 countries including 430 employees in the United States. Ingrid Astudillo, Human Resources Manager, chose The Lindenberger Group, LLC‘s online sexual harassment prevention training after examining several options. Says Astudillo, “My first attempt was to bring in an outside company that does on-site training. I found that, even though the classroom training was mandatory, we did not reach everyone. The beauty of online training is that you can reach everyone, keep track of who takes the training, and re-train employees every few years. Before online training, I could not keep track of who attended training because everything was manual. The electronic tracking software facilitates our record keeping requirements and confirms employee participation of the training programs, an important feature if a lawsuit is ever filed.”
In addition, Astudillo is happy with the consistency and 24/7 availability of computer based training. “We can be assured that all of our employees will receive the exact same content. And, our employees can access the training whenever they have the time for it, rather than interrupting their regular routine to attend a specially-scheduled seminar.”
Failure to adopt a proactive and aggressive stance on harassment in the workplace can result not only in costly lawsuits but also in loss of employee morale, decline in productivity, and an erosion of an organization’s public image. Says Astudillo, “It is much less expensive to implement policies and training than it is to be involved in one lawsuit.” Jenkins agrees, “Investing in this training is well worth it.”
For more information on sexual harassment training go to http://lindenberger.wpengine.com/ser_str.html
Also, just curious – what kind of harassment prevention training does your company provide or don’t they AND have you ever experienced harassment or bullying at work? Post your comments below and I’ll do my best to reply to you personally.
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I like that you pointed out that a proactive stance on harassment in the workplace can help you to save money because you won’t have to worry about getting involved in a lawsuit. My sister and her husband are planning to own a company in the future. They said that they’d like to make sure that they can keep a good reputation for their company, so they’re looking for ways to prioritize the security and protection of their employees. They mentioned to me that they don’t have a stable business capital yet, so they don’t want to spend on legal proceedings due to sexual harassment cases. I’ll share your blog with them.
There is another kind of bullying at the workplace that goes under the radar – it is peer to peer bullying, especially among women. It is under-reported, and happens mostly in collusion and knowledge of other women co-workers. It is pretty much similar to the “Mean Girls” kind of situation, with one focus – advancing one’s career!
I faced it when I joined this current organization I am working for, 5 years ago! I was too smart for the group of women I was joining. I could do everything they did in half the time & twice the efficiency. The only way I found that worked was to share my knowledge. That through them off-guard because to them “knowledge was power”. And here I was handing over that power. But that helped me gain their confidence & they got to know the real me. Now we are good friends & I see that as a group we are motivated to go out and learn more so we can teach the others more.
This is for sure “harrasment” – wonder what category this falls in?
I believe that the category would be bullying. According to the research on workplace bullying, women tend to pick other women as targets 71% of the time and use tactics like giving the target the silent treatment or encouraging others to turn against the target. What a great example you shared. It sounds as if you handled the situation brilliantly!
Does anyone else have a personal story or experience to share?