Last week, approximately 100 Google employees, community activists and investors joined together to protest at Alphabet’s shareholder meeting and demanded change from the company on how it handles workplace issues, including sexual harassment and misconduct policies. Google is not alone. Companies and institutions across the country are grappling with these issues. With many thanks to the MeToo and Time’s Up movements, we are finally talking about accountability and prevention and starting to see a true public reckoning with attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that must change.
So what can companies do to improve their sexual harassment policies and workplace culture?
While all employees have a role to play in the workplace culture, leadership comes from the top and chief executives and board of directors are ultimately responsible for establishing and maintaining an organizational culture where respect and civility are promoted and harassment is swiftly and proportionally addressed.
Here are a few key tips to consider –
Follow the best practices to prevent sexual harassment and misconduct in your organization.
Identify conditions that place employees at risk.
Maintain a clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policy.
Implement training that works.
Promote a culture of respect and inclusion.
Change requires leadership and accountability.
Read our entire HR Open Letter Medium series published in April 2018 for more insights.
Our open letters addressed specific ideas for how to prevent harm to all the stakeholders in an organization: CEOs and boards of directors, CHROs and human resources executives, managers and supervisors; and importantly employees as the first line of defense. In addition to the best practices listed above, everyone in an organization can be an educated and engaged bystander. Companies can use employee surveys, engage their boards effectively, and boost educational efforts internally. Engaging outside help to review policies and coach leadership about impacting behaviors in the workplace is a wise investment in promoting a healthy work environment and limiting the risk of sexual harassment and misconduct going unaddressed.