IDHR March 2018 Tip of the Month
Sexual Harassment Prevention Post Harvey Weinstein
Since the initial allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, women across the country have felt emboldened to tell their stories of harassment. Thus, the
#MeToo movement was born. Sordid tales of sexual harassment and abuse are prevalent in not only Hollywood, but also every other working industry including media, government and education.
This firestorm of sexual harassment allegations brings to bear this essential question – how do we prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?
The answer for decades has always been compliance training on the law. However, in June of 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued their
“Report of the Co-Chairs of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace,” which determined that training alone is ineffective in the prevention of sexual harassment at work. The report finds that “…incivility is often an antecedent to workplace harassment…” and recommends that harassment prevention training not only include workplace civility, but bystander intervention training as well. See
https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/report.cfm. Civility training establishes expectations of civility and respect in the workplace, and bystander intervention enables bystanders to recognize potentially harassing behaviors and can motivate them to step in and take action.
Sexual harassment is not gender specific. It is a problem that belongs to us all. It is incumbent on all of us to help eradicate the problem. Below are a few guidelines to assist employers in creating workplaces free of sexual harassment:
Create a top-down culture in which women are treated as equals and everyone is treated with respect.
Encourage civility, not by telling employees what they
should not be doing, but by showing employees what they
should be doing.
Create a strong policy that prohibits sexual harassment with clear, specific examples of prohibited conduct.
Provide annual training on sexual harassment prevention – including civility and bystander intervention.
Ensure that top management receives training and explains their expectations for everyone.
harassment reporting and bystander intervention – without fear of retaliation.
Take all complaints seriously, investigate immediately, and take disciplinary action when appropriate.
Advise managers not to “friend” subordinates on social media and vice versa.
Remind people in positions of power to be deliberate about their decisions – beyond what is convenient or easy – and think about how a situation may be perceived.
For more information on sexual harassment in the workplace, register for training with the Illinois Department of Human Rights’ Institute for Training and Development. The Institute is conducting free, open-to-the-public sexual harassment prevention training in Springfield on March 21 and in Chicago on April 3, 2018. Register at
http://illinoishrtraining.eventbrite.com. For information on scheduling and fees for a customized training at your organization, contact the Institute for Training and Development at
IDHR.Training@illinois.gov or by phone at 312-814-2477.
The Illinois Department of Human Rights' Training Institute offers a variety of trainings centered on reducing friction in the workplace by learning to communicate effectively.
View our full training schedule and register!
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