Grantee Spotlight: Project Proves Workplaces Want Bystander Intervention Training

Grantee spotlight: Emily May, Hollaback

We’re immensely proud of the work of our grantees around the country, and this week we sat down with Emily May, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hollaback, one of the select organizations that have received grants from RALIANCE – in partnership with the National Football League – to advance projects that contribute to sexual violence prevention.

In our conversation, May discussed Hollaback’s mission to end harassment and how RALIANCE’s grant enabled the organization to launch and evaluate a bystander intervention program, which focuses on teaching trainees to recognize and respond to harassment they witness or experience. 

RALIANCE: Can you describe Hollaback and how it aims to meet its mission?

May: Hollaback is a movement committed to ending harassment in all of its forms. Our main focus is on training local leaders to lead this movement in their own communities by collecting stories about harassment and offering bystander intervention trainings. In addition to free public trainings, we also offer trainings for businesses, RALIANCE helped us to bring our business trainings into full expression with a $50,000 grant.

RALIANCE: How did the grant of help Hollaback meet its goals?

May: RALIANCE’s grant arrived at a critical moment for Hollaback, and we’re immensely grateful that it did. Our board had just passed a growth plan directing us to focus on a business audience for our bystander intervention trainings, but we had yet to provide a significant amount of training in a workplace environment. We had to assess whether workplaces would be interested in this type of training, and RALIANCE’s grant enabled us to expand and test our training programs.

We instituted an exit question at the end of the training, to see whether people found it helpful and would know what to do if they experienced or witnessed harassment. Upwards of 98% of people exit our trainings saying yes – and we saw that result especially with one of our oldest clients, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Our training essentially went viral around the organization, and we’ve now trained roughly 500 employees there.  

Ultimately, RALIANCE’s grant helped us make the case that workplaces need and want bystander intervention training, and since then our growth has been exceptional. Prior to the grant, we were bringing in between twenty and thirty thousand dollars a year in revenue from trainings, but that has skyrocketed to $200,000 in the last four months alone. We really credit RALIANCE for giving us the capital required to prioritize bringing our trainings to workplaces that need it.

RALIANCE: What did the grant project help you learn about bystander intervention training?

May: We found that adapting our training to a specific audience helped deepen its impact. For example, we spent a lot of time conducting outreach to sporting institutions to see if they’d be interested in receiving training, and deep customization for this audience was important. Finding a trainer who was sports savvy was critical, because they had direct experience with sporting institutions and may have witnessed or experienced harassment in that world. This enabled the trainer to really speak directly to that audience, so we’re not swooping in as an outsider but speaking directly to their needs.

RALIANCE: How can our readers support your organization?

May: We’re always looking for more people to join our movement. People are welcome to come to one of our free public trainings during our 16 Days of Activism. And, through a partnership with L’Oreal Paris, we now have the capacity to train over 40,000 more people to specifically address street harassment over the next two years – we are actively seeking partners to host these trainings.  

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

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