U.S. Senate Committee Recognizes Need for New Harassment Prevention Training

Dear Friend,

What does our federal government think about existing anti-harassment training? They say it’s time for change too.

In December 2018, United States Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), published a report detailing issues of workplace harassment across the country and recommendations of how to reduce and prevent the problem. The report contains many items for legislative consideration by Congress, but it also identifies and highlights proactive measures that employers should take to stay ahead of the problem.

This Senate committee report identifies the inadequate aims of existing trainings. It further describes the notable absence of truly innovative resources. Here are two important excerpts related to private sector employers:

Employers in a number of industries have access to presentations and other forms of training through their employment practice liability insurer. Trainings conducted by insurance companies, who may be liable for any payouts as a result of a finding of employer wrongdoing, may naturally focus on more on avoiding liability than on best practices for reducing or preventing harassment from the perspective of a worker. And many H.R. professionals noted the lack of external training resources that did not take a legal/compliance approach.While compliance-focused trainings may be effective in educating workers about the law, EEOC’s Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace cited several studies showing that training may not change attitudes toward harassment or behaviors to prevent harassment from occurring in the first place, especially if these trainings are conducted without context or follow-up.

One theme raised consistently in conversations with the Democratic staff—whether with an association, worker, advocate, or company—was that establishing a workplace culture that values equal opportunity and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind is a critical component of combatting the epidemic of workplace harassment. Strong trainings and policies are important prevention tools, but without a robust culture of inclusivity, workers may not trust the policies in place or take trainings seriously.

These direct quotations from pages 24-25 of the Senate report highlight the need for a new approach to preventing harassment. The best way to prevent the problem is to address and uproot its most fundamental causes. Therefore, we have to reorient our goal from avoiding legal liability to creating thriving environments where every person is inherently respected.

So long as we continue pushing the same failed training approach of the last three decades on American workers, we will never accomplish the real goal of preventingharassment and, more importantly, growing closer to true equality. Our approach must match our goal: it is time to get active about equality.

Equality For All,

Brian J Sullivan

Brian J. Sullivan

Traditional Anti-Harassment Training: In Dire Need of Reinvention

Dear Friend,

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 repeatedly citing 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

Brian J. Sullivan

The Official Launch of Sullivan Speaks!

Dear Friend,

More than a year ago, initial headline stories of Hollywood harassment shook our country. The #MeToo movement swept across the nation and is now globally renowned. People all over our planet continue to bravely, painfully, and honestly confront and discuss the depth of problems we face not just to end harassment, but to forge a new status quo honoring true equality of all people.

As an attorney, I began attending conferences, continuing education events, seminars and other meetings asking targeted questions about the ways we in the profession could begin to effectively advise clients toward truly preventingharassment as opposed to managing it. Unfortunately, I did not receive many innovative responses.

Then, a few short months into the unprecedented social justice movement, this happened:

I became a father to the most precious, curious, innocent, daughter full of wonderment and joy. That very night in the hospital is when I decided that the status quo into which she was born was wholly unacceptable and that I would become an active voice to help change it. I vowed to fundamentally shift my career goals and become proactive toward achieving equality by joining so many brave, inspiring voices who continue to change the course of history. That eagerness to contribute my ideas related to ACTIVE Equality™ is my “why” for Sullivan Speaks.

Today I officially start that journey. After much listening, study, and consideration of our collective better way, today is when I begin fulfilling my vow to use my life and talents for a reality long overdue. Sullivan Speaks is my professional speaking and consulting business dedicated to vying for the existence every human being deserves. This venture is the beginning of my active role in our dream (hopefully) come true.

I hope you will join the conversation and our worthy pursuit! Sign up for my newsletter, connect with and follow me on social media, and bookmark my blog as I will continue showcasing vital information and proactive solutions to achieve equality together. You can also book me as a speaker or hire me as a consultant for your organizational leaders. I am honored to work with you and beyond excited about the change we can forge together

Equality For All,

.Brian J Sullivan

Brian J. Sullivan