3 things sexual harassment training should include

Updated: Jun 19




Traditionally, sexual harassment training has focused on defining harassment, instructing employees not to harass, and if you are harassed, you should report it. All good things... but just like the side pony you used to rock, things sometimes change for the better. Here are 3 tips to help you update your training from dust-covered DVD to awesome tools your employees can actually use.

  1. Encourage people on what they SHOULD do rather than what they SHOULDN’T do. Positive reinforcement is significantly more effective than negative reinforcement. When training employees on harassment in the workplace, make sure they know what they SHOULD do in certain situations. We love empowering employees to speak up when someone says or does something inappropriate. Provide employees with real-life sexual harassment examples that they are able to refer to and explain how they can handle similar situations in the future.

  2. Focus trainings on the specific type of business. With different work settings (i.e. retail vs. office) come different types of harassment situations. It's important to understand the way employees, vendors, and customers act in your workplace and help employees know how to address harassment that specifically affect your workplace.

  3. Incorporate bystander intervention training. Trained bystanders are the BEST! They have the potential to positively affect the overall culture within an organization. In order for bystander intervention training to be most effective, employees should be provided with the tools and confidence to say something when it happens. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that bystander intervention trainings use at least these four strategies:

  • Create awareness - Bystanders should be able to recognize when certain behaviors may not be right

  • Create a sense of collective responsibility - Bystanders should be encouraged to take action when they see others experiencing challenging behavior

  • Create a sense of empowerment - Conduct exercises to provide bystanders with the confidence to intervene when needed

  • Provide resources - Provide bystanders with resources to support the action taken

With the right training, bystanders will be able to identify behaviors that are unwelcome and offensive to others in the workplace, creating a responsibility to act on the harassment rather than idly standing by.


By incorporating these 3 tips into your sexual harassment training, you'll begin to create a workplace culture that encourages bystanders to speak up against harassment and creates a safe and comfortable environment for all.





The content of this website provides practical and HR best practice information and is not legal advice.  simplyHR LLC dba Define the Line, does not provide legal advice or other professional services.  While every effort is made to provide accurate and current information, laws change regularly and may vary depending on the state and/or the municipality your business operates in. The information provided from simplyHR LLC dba Define the Line is provided for informational purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgement. You should review applicable federal, state and municipality laws in your jurisdiction and consult with legal counsel as you deem necessary. 

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