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Viewing entries tagged
Sexual Harassment

How A Fortune 100 Manager Got Away With Dozens of Sexual Harassment Cases

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How A Fortune 100 Manager Got Away With Dozens of Sexual Harassment Cases

For every headline we see about workplace harassment or bigotry, it’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of stories that never surface. Today’s blog comes from an anonymous employee who recounts an instance of systematic, predatory behavior at one of largest tech companies in America. Their story illustrates the discomfort and trauma that employees (often women) face when toxic behavior is present, and explains why companies must take new approaches to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

I am grateful to have had so many positive experiences in the workplace. I worked at my previous company for six and a half years, during a time of tremendous growth in which the company grew from 3,000 to 25,000 employees and became one of the most highly recognized brands in the world. Throughout this time, the focus on culture and community was apparent from the top down and instilled a genuine feeling of family amongst my colleagues and myself. Even after leaving the company a year and a half ago, I still feel it. Four people on my former team became some of my best friends, and I think of my former colleagues as extended family.

So when I discovered that more than a dozen young women – my extended family members – all experienced the predatory behavior of another male colleague through a systematic and premeditated series of inappropriate conversations via an internal company chat tool, I was furious and heartbroken. I discovered this one night at our company’s annual sales conference, where thousands of people in my work family gather each year to connect, learn and grow together. After one of the sessions, I was catching up with friends from other offices when a teammate shared a story about his team dinner from the previous evening…

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

The walkout against sexual harassment at Google last Friday turned heads. Following an investigation by the New York Times revealing that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million exit package after being credibly accused of sexual misconduct, employees walked out across Google’s global offices. The world watched as over 20,000 Googlers demanded better reporting, greater transparency, and the end of forced arbitration around sexual harassment. Their actions carried such weight in the broader conversation that some have called this a “new kind of activism.”

Sexual misconduct has been previously exposed at large and powerful Silicon Valley firms, so what made this event so unprecedented? As a company, Google represents the pinnacle of corporate culture, offering everything from gourmet cafeterias to free time for side projects. So when more than 20 percent of Google’s workforce walked out in protest, they exposed a glaring gap in the company’s culture and shed light on its consequences. While backlash to harassment has often come in the form of lost revenue or negative press, the Google walkouts showed that employers who fail to engage cultural issues don’t just risk customer attrition or litigation. They risk losing large swaths of top talent, even if they’re Google…

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

What are the costs of sexual harassment?

Companies have long known that sexual harassment can lead to costly lawsuits. But since the explosion of #MeToo and the fall of Harvey Weinstein, the costs of misconduct have grown. Today, harassment is no longer just a cultural or legal issue, but a financial and brand issue that reaches every corner of the company. That means that no matter how good your training and reporting may be, they’re no longer enough.

Story after story has shown that when a brand loses authenticity over sexual harassment, they also risk losing their hard-won earnings. Uber has lost nearly 15% of its market share over the two years of its harassment scandals. After it was announced that Steve Wynn had received multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Wynn Resorts lost $3.5B in company value.

Your company should be armed and prepared to deal with toxic behavior as well as the brand damage that results when people hear about it. Companies are owning up to faults and taking action faster than ever when CEOs misuse their power. If you turn a blind eye to identifying and preventing toxic behavior, you’re risking more than legal fees and turnover—you risk irreparable damage to your market share, merger outcomes, and your name…

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The Problem With the Term “Sexual Harassment”

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The Problem With the Term “Sexual Harassment”

In the popular imagination, sexual harassment evokes images of men who ask women on dates and can’t take a hint, or powerful male bosses who request sexual favors from less powerful women. But the scope of unwanted remarks and behaviors go well beyond instances dealing directly with sex.

The term “sexual harassment” can lead to an poor understanding of the full range of abusive workplace behaviors. What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment stems from highly subtle, interconnected, and systemic behaviors that can be both sexual and nonsexual. Without a proper understanding of how harassment works, it’s easy to miss things that don’t immediately escalate but pull the thread and set genuine sexual misconduct in motion.

In the face of such social and cultural complexity, the temptation is to ban all references to gender, sex, class, and other potential points of controversy. However, we’ve seen that banning all of these behaviors can sometimes cause more harm than good. In fact, discrimination lawyers have said that such sweeping prohibitions tend to be unhelpful and can even inhibit the elimination of workplace harassment…

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20 Years Ago, Harassment Training Was Revolutionary. Here's Why It’s Not Anymore

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20 Years Ago, Harassment Training Was Revolutionary. Here's Why It’s Not Anymore

More and more Americans have grown to consider sexual harassment a problem in the last 20 years. In 1998, 53 percent of adults surveyed by Gallup said that people were too sensitive about sexual harassment. But something has turned in the last two decades: in 2017, 59 percent of adults now say that people are not sensitive enough. The general public is expecting more from businesses than ever when it comes to creating a safe, inclusive work environment. So how is sexual harassment in the workplace still so widespread?

In 1998, the Supreme Court determined that for a company to avoid liability in a sexual harassment case, it had to show its employees were trained and given a way to report offenses. At the time, this ruling was revolutionary. In response to the new federal code, companies across the U.S. adopted training seminars and videos, understanding that any company that shrugged off sexual harassment would now pay a steep price. Companies tracked attendance at trainings, clicked through a PowerPoint, and collected signatures on the employee handbook, and this was unprecedented.

But in recent years, trainings have reinforced gender stereotypes, received more backlash when delivered by women, and failed to promote accountability unless done by a supervisor. Women and minorities who support diversity have even been found to be penalized in performance reviews. If everyone believes training and reporting are integral to corporate culture, then why aren’t they working—and how are businesses expected to meet the standard today?

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The Strongest Predictor of Sexual Harassment? Your Culture!

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The Strongest Predictor of Sexual Harassment? Your Culture!

A landmark study revealed that the strongest predictor of sexual harassment has little to do with individual perpetrators. Rather, the most potent indicator is what researchers call “organizational climate”—in other words, your company’s culture.

While there is no silver bullet to reducing sexual harassment, we’ve found that one of the best ways to keep harassers at bay is to not just throw out the bad apples but focus instead on improving the whole barrel. As businesses are being held increasingly accountable for taking ownership of sexual harassment, we’re seeing that culture remains key to an enjoyable and competitive workplace.

Human resources professionals and culture advocates have said that, to improve the organizational climate, leaders must set the example, women must be promoted, and organizations must take swift action against inappropriate behavior. But where does one start with these undertakings? Three steps you can take to improve your culture and help decrease the likelihood of sexual harassment…

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the veil has been lifted on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace and the numbers are staggering. Millions of men and women have finally been empowered by the #MeToo movement to come forward and tell their stories of being harassed. In fact, 1 in 3 women reported that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment while at work. Unfortunately, this problem isn't limited to a few bad actors either. About 20 to 25 percent of men self-reported participating in sexually coercive behavior, ranging from forced sex to verbal manipulation like guilt-tripping a woman into having sex.

Given the immense breadth of harassment claims that have emerged, it doesn’t seem that there are large enterprises in any industry that can credibly claim that harassment is not an issue they face in their workplace.

That being said, we have begun to learn a lot about the types of companies that are less susceptible to workplace sexual harassment. Organizations with more women in leadership roles, executive buy-in on anti-harassment efforts, and consistent enforcement of corporate policies have proven track records of being less likely to experience workplace harassment (EEOC). Unfortunately, even with all of these efforts, moving the needle on these fronts can still be quite challenging.

This moment has the potential to be a major inflection point in the effort to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. However, if we fail to truly understand the scope of the problem before us, the moment will slip through our fingers. We believe that leaders in technology, law, politics, and HR need to come together to find solutions that speak to the underlying foundations of this problem. Major victories have been won in rooting out some of the worst of the worst but our work is just beginning.

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Fama helps identify harassment at the source and notifies HR professionals immediately to risky behavior. Fama’s web based solution leverages AI technology to identify potential threats before they enter your organization. Call us to learn more.

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