If you are part of the American workforce, you are probably required to take part in some form of anti-harassment training. In fact, millions of Americans participate in anti-harassment training every year. Do you take these trainings seriously? Do you routinely race through the video modules, only paying enough attention to click as fast as possible until arriving at the end, having now “completed” your education on this vital topic? Even worse, do colleagues make fun of the training or is it the subject of distasteful jokes?
Droves of workers identify with this description of annual participation in anti-harassment training—not to mention a comedic attitude toward such training as the laughing stock of corporate protocol—yet we continue to push it on workforces as a solution despite its obvious failure for decades. This reality is nothing new.
Jena McGregor’s article in the Washington Post “Why sexual harassment training doesn’t stop harassment” describes how traditional anti-harassment training has unintended and detrimental impacts on both reducing harassment and promoting cultures of equality. Researchers have actually found that traditional anti-harassment training often reinforces gender biases and results in a higher likelihood of telling sexual jokes. Traditional anti-harassment training has also been ineffective at reducing the staggering direct costs (i.e. investigatory costs, legal fees) and indirect costs (i.e. lower productivity, higher turnover) of harassment in the workplace.
We need a fundamental change in how we approach solutions to harassment. Instead of failed “check-the-box” training that emphasizes legal definitions and reactive compliance protocols, we must be proactive toward achieving an equality mindset that builds dignified, thriving cultures in organizations nationwide. Especially at this critical moment in history, now is our time to strive for something greater than repeating ineffective legal guidelines. Now is our time to enshrine a higher status quo that values and honors the inherent worth of every person within the teams and companies we serve. ACTIVE Equality™ aims to accomplish exactly that.
Equality For All,
Brian J. Sullivan