HR Management & Compliance

A Changing Approach to Sexual Harassment Training

Encouraging employees to report sexual harassment is a challenge that recent developments have catapulted to the front burner. We found some good advice in the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) recently published research initiative: the SHRM Harassment-Free Workplace series.
In two previous posts, we discussed two findings that seem as though they could be related and should prove informative to HR professionals:

  1. Roughly 22% of nonmanagement employee survey respondents said they were unsure whether their company had sexual harassment policies in place. (Previous post)
  1. While 11% of nonmanagement employee survey respondents reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment over the past 12 months, a full 76% said they did not report the harassment. (Previous post)

These statistics should sound warning alarms for HR professionals, particularly in today’s environment. Lesson one, which we’ve discussed, ensure that employees are aware of your sexual harassment policies. That means communicating frequently and often with staff at all levels.

Helping Employees Be Heard

Lesson two, take steps to ensure that employees will come forward if they feel they have been the victim of harassment.
SHRM’s survey data suggest that companies are doing just that. “Thirty-two percent of organizations made changes to their sexual harassment training in the past year,” according to the SHRM survey. “The most common changes were to include workplace civility and to tailor training to a specific workforce, two suggestions of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.”
These two changes seem particularly relevant. For one, real-world sexual harassment is often far more subtle than outdated training videos might suggest. It’s important to educate employees on the nuances that can be present in incidences of sexual harassment. Additionally, catering training to a specific workplace can help avoid victims of sexual harassment brushing off inappropriate behavior as “just part of the culture here.”
According to a SHRM press release, the research included two confidential surveys of HR professionals with a total of 1,078 respondents and a survey of 1,223 nonmanager employees. The research was conducted in January 2018 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 and 3 percentage points, respectively.