While sexual harassment is probably not your go-to conversation starter, talking to your team about what workplace harassment is, how they can each help to eliminate it, and guiding your team through any current issues, are some ways you can spark change in your organization. Here are three of our favorite conversation starters to help you on your journey to eliminating workplace harassment.
1. How does sexual harassment show up in the workplace?
It has been incredible to hear the different perspectives, definitions, and stories that individuals share during this discussion. The idea here is NOT to provide the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or any State or local laws definitions of sexual harassment. Instead, you want your team to come together and define if for themselves. To work collectively, and open-mindedly about what IS sexual harassment and HOW it shows up in the workplace. After your discussion, provide employees with your organization's definition of sexual harassment and share any steps employees need to take to report inappropriate behavior.
HR nerd tip: separate your team into small groups (3 - 5 people) and have each group discuss. Then bring your entire team back together to talk about it in more detail.
2. If you saw or heard of someone being sexually harassed or found out that someone was experiencing inappropriate behavior at work - what are some things you could do to help them?
Let your employees explore the various options they have when it comes to supporting their coworkers. Being an ally is different for everyone. For some, speaking up for a coworker is easy. Others may find that checking-in on their coworkers is how they prefer to respond. And others may want to report the behavior right away. This is a perfect time to talk about the various ways employees can report behavior and what steps the company will take to protect everyone involved.
HR nerd tip: during the training take notes of the different ideas. Set a calendar reminder to send the list out to your employees a month from now. It'll be a great reminder of how they can be allies for one another.
3. Discuss an issue that has been reported, you have witnessed in your workplace, or you’ve heard people whispering about in the hallway… you get it, pick something that your team may be dealing with right now.
One of our favorite clients isn't shying away from talking about the issues that matter most. When something comes up they bring their teams together to talk through it. In their industry, this usually means talking about how to support one another when a client or customer is inappropriate. Not only does the team talk through their own experiences so they can all learn from one another, but they work together to create action plans so they can handle similar situations in the future.
Talking to your team about workplace harassment doesn’t have to be difficult. Bring your team together, utilize one of these three discussion topics, and begin to create a workplace culture you’ve always dreamed of.
Keep speaking up, defining the line, and sparking change!
Your nerdy HR friends,
Nikki & Tina
Define the Line is a company that specializes in harassment prevention training. We created a comic book training tool to help us on our mission to empower employees to speak up for themselves and each other to help eliminate workplace harassment.