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Harassment Its Not About Sex

Year after year harassment claims dominate the news with big dollar settlements. Company's names are tarnished and reputations are destroyed. And at the same time, company morale plummets, organizational trust is ruined and lives are changed forever.

Why?.Why do claims continue? And why don't some employers ever get it? The fact is, most employers do. More and more employers are taking the steps to ensure that harassment does not occur in their workplace. But for those who do not, the costs have the potential to destroy their company. Time after time I see in my consulting practice that when harassment and its associated behaviors are allowed to flourish, other problems follow, including low productivity, poor quality and service, and high absenteeism and turnover. Why? When employees are not treated with respect and dignity, when employees are not valued, then bad things happen.

Morale declines, pride in work disappears, and company loyalty walks out the door.Where harassment is not tolerated, where it is immediately addressed if it occurs?a clear message is signaled to all employees: we care. When employers take care of their employees, employees take care of their organization.So what must organizations do to ensure that they have a harassment free workplace? There are five key steps to take:.1. Send the message loud and clear to all employees (and vendors, customers, and visitors) that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated here.

And if it does occur, it will be dealt with swiftly and severely. Let me tell you a story of how this message was powerfully delivered by one of my clients. I had completed training a group of the company's managers in sexual harassment prevention during their corporate retreat.

The program was the last component of a long, three day program and this training was to be followed by a weekend of recreation. Before exiting, the Human Resource Manager met with me and the President to inform him that an employee in one of their out-of-state facilities had reported that she had been harassed by one of the managers. Upon hearing this, the President cancelled his well deserved round of golf, flew to the facility, spent the weekend investigating the complaint, and by Monday morning concluded the investigation, determined that the harassment did in fact occur, and terminated the offending manager.

What a visible and powerful message the President sent to all?harassment will not occur in my company!!.2. Model respectful behavior. Position and power does not mean dominance and disrespect. Productive companies value and respect all their employees, regardless of their position or gender.

They foster a culture that can best be described as egalitarian.3. Train all managers annually on harassment prevention and investigation procedures. Educate all employees on harassment with a clear message that we won't tolerate it, but if it occurs we will protect you and we will do something about it.4.

Have clear policy in place?and make sure that everyone reads it and understands it. There must never be any question in anyone's mind about the company's position and everyone must know what will happen if harassment occurs.5. Train everyone in interpersonal communications and conflict resolution.

Give employees the tools to address problems as they occur?but always provide them with a safety net if they can't resolve the issue.There is no place in the workplace for harassment. Employers need to get that.

.Rick Dacri is an organizational development consultant, coach and featured speaker at regional and national conferences.

Since 1995 his firm, Dacri & Associates has focused on improving the performance of individuals and organizations. Rick can be reached at 1-800-892-9828,, or http://www.

By: Rick Dacri

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