The reason SafestHires supports #MeToo, #Timesup is because we exist to help companies make safe hires. We do this by thoroughly researching an applicant’s background, including their criminal history, work history, drug use, and other possible indicators of risky behavior.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sexual harassment, some people can pass a background check and still pose a risk to their colleagues. This is because the system is flawed in that it completely favors offenders.
In some cases, offenders may simply be ignorant; they haven’t been properly educated about threatening or harassing behavior and they’ve never been accused, caught or punished for it. In other cases, the person may be an outright predator who has been able to game the system for years. Regardless of their profile or the reasons for their behavior, the system favors – and in many ways – protects offenders.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a cultural problem that’s festered for decades, in large part because real consequences for the offending party are rare and everyone knows this. Depending on their role in the company, many offenders not only survive a sexual harassment claim, meaning they get to keep their job, but often times, the victim must change positions or give up their job as part of a settlement. In fact, the New York Times just reported that this happened to a Hillary Clinton campaign aide in 2008.
Additionally, victims are often silenced with Non Disclosure clauses in settlements, further insulating the offender from accountability or consequences. And even if the offender is terminated or asked to resign, it’s highly unlikely this event will be disclosed to their next employer, either because of settlement terms or merely because the employer fears being sued, which means there’s an excellent chance they will resume their bad behavior at their next job.
Adding injury to injury, we’re all aware of horror stories about victims facing retaliation, which makes victims even more reluctant to come forward.
All of these things have created a climate where people feel trapped by the abuse and gripped with fear about filing a claim, and even if they make the painful decision to come forward, they know the process is clearly slanted in favor of the offender.
All of this must change.
The #MeToo / #Timesup movement is shining a bright light on this insidious problem and we want to do our part as a socially conscious company to help create a climate where people are safe at work and where they feel empowered to come forward and report harassment without any fear. We will be updating our own policies to effect culture change, providing additional resources to our clients and supporting efforts to lobby for changes in the law.
- We are revisiting our sexual harassment training curriculum to ensure the content addresses culture change, beyond legal compliance.
- We are revisiting our manager training curriculum to include inclusive leadership skills building.
- We have a survivor-centered reporting procedure that prioritizes the safety and well-being of incident reporters. We invite suggestions on how to make the reporting process more accessible.
- We encourage all employees to take advantage of the mental health services benefits. All managers must prioritize their team’s physical and emotional health needs and collaborate to make workload adjustments as needed.
- To encourage dialogue this month and beyond, we will be hosting general discussion groups and survivor support groups facilitated by third-party expert facilitators. Depending on employee feedback, we will look to continuing these in the future.
- We have a resource sheet that lists external organizations employees can check out for additional guidance and support. These are available on the company intranet.
Additional Resources for Clients
- We will be promoting sexual harassment training courses from Kantola Training inside our platform. These course are endorsed by the Society for Human Resource Management.
- We have begun promoting job reference shield laws so that employers can become familiar with the laws in their states that shield them from disclosing sexual harassment to other employers.
Lobbying for Change
There are a host of bills being proposed at the state and federal level that would offer greater protection for those coming forward with sexual harassment claims and insulate employers from liability for disclosing sexual harasssment on employment verifications.
We support these bills but we think laws protecting employers should go further by requiring companies to inform future employers if a person was terminated for sexual harassment when asked, and requiring companies to inform their employees of this obligation as part of mandatory sexual harassment training, so that employees know they could be jeopardizing their career if they engage in sexual harassment at work.
#MeToo / #Timesup is a movement about empowerment and culture change. It can be the springboard for moving beyond entrenched, pervasive, and limiting beliefs that are at the root of ill-dignified behavior. A critical ground zero for this evolution is the workplace, where every employee seeks economic stability, respect, and recognition for their efforts. Companies that proactively take the #MeToo / #Timesup message to heart, by setting explicit goals for fostering dignity and diversity and holding everyone accountable while involving every person in the organization, will be at the cutting edge of the change that is needed.