Sexual Harassment Training Doesn’t Work: But Some Things Do



Traditional methods can backfire, but ideas like teaching bystanders to intervene and promoting more women have proved effective.

Many people are familiar with typical corporate sexual harassment training: clicking through a PowerPoint, checking a box that you read the employee handbook or attending a mandatory seminar at which someone lectures about harassment while attendees glance at their phones.

A New York Times article published on December 11, 2017 details more effective ways to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

It states, “Training is essential but not enough, researchers say. To actually prevent harassment, companies need to create a culture in which women are treated as equals and employees treat one another with respect.”

Most trainings simply teach people basic information and how to report harassment, and are simply in place to limit corporate liability. Instead of teaching how to curb this sort of behavior, these trainings can lead to defensiveness and reinforce gender stereotypes.

The article lists, “…evidence-based ideas for how to create a workplace culture that rejects harassment. Researchers say they apply not just to men attacking women but to other types of harassment, too.”

These ideas include, empowering bystanders, encouraging civility, training seriously and often, promoting women, and encouraging reporting.

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