If your team is in New York, you have probably heard that organizations were mandated to train their staff on sexual harassment prevention by October 9th. Training employees is just the beginning. Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is an ongoing effort. We have additional recommended steps that you can take to foster a respectful work environment:
• Provide guidance to all individuals that represent your organization or interact with your staff. If you have independent contractors, vendors or volunteers who are in your premises or attend your events regularly, provide a sexual harassment policy. You can request that they go through a shorter version of your staff training, have them watch some online webinars, or add a section for code of conduct or do’s and don’ts in their contracts/agreements. The approach you take can vary depending on their level of interaction with your staff.
• Don’t forget to train your Board. Even if your Board members do not interact with your staff, they represent your organization and their behavior is scrutinized by everyone in your community; including your donors, visitors and, in some cases, the media.
• Use the opportunity to talk about your values, your culture or even host team bonding activities to set up the tone and showcase what behaviors are acceptable in your workplace. The mandatory training tends to generate a lot of “what if” questions. If this annual training was your team’s first approach to sexual harassment training or if they have many follow up questions, don’t wait until next year to conduct more training. Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace requires a respectful and supportive work environment.
Everyone is more aware of what can and cannot be said in the office, and that is a good thing. Training brings awareness and more sensitivity around issues related to interpersonal communications. If you are in a position of leadership or HR, be ready for more questions, claims or investigations. If you are unsure how you should respond or what the process should look like, reach out to your legal counsel or your Kiwi HR advisor to ensure you are prepared.