The #MeToo movement started in California but has long since spread to Oregon and other states. Since then, many more women — and men — have stepped forward to share their stories of sexual harassment or assault at the hands of their colleagues and superiors. Claims filed with the EEOC have continued to rise since 2016. This may result from victims feeling more empowered to speak out.
CNN points out that it also illustrates how ineffective the training material has been over the past 30 years when it comes to prevention. The news agency believes that one potential reason for this is a focus on avoiding lawsuits instead of addressing the social and moral side of sexual harassment. People then tend to treat the training as a mandatory exercise where the check the box as completed and move on.
MarketWatch makes several recommendations for what sexual harassment training should look like at work. It recommends exploring the gray areas as these may often be the most problematic. By focusing on the behaviors that occur when social and work lines cross, people focus less on the attacker vs victim and more on the actions.
It may also be wise to turn training into an interactive exercise instead of a lecture or watching random videos on a screen. Good trainers make time for questions that explore gray areas or clarify the information presented. The issues surrounding defining consent and what counts as harassment are new to many people. Men especially may need to be able to ask questions if they are to be steered in the right direction.
Finally, the higher-ups should go through training too. After all, some of the most gruesome cases of sexual harassment involve superiors abusing their power to have their way with subordinates. Training everyone also helps companies to show their commitment to holding everyone accountable, regardless of position.
Not all employers may be open to changing their standardized sexual harassment training sessions. However, if employees speak up and get others to join their cause, they may successfully become a voice for positive change in the workplace.