Most of our clients use our systems to help employees report Code of Conduct violations. So when I saw last night’s episode of ABC News’ 202/20 was focused on sexual harassment, I had to tune in.
Much of the episode focused on Gretchen Carlson and her emotionally grueling struggle with sexual harassment that began shortly after being crowned Miss America and continued for decades culminating with her settlement with Fox News following her lawsuit aimed at Roger Ailes. As a viewer, I was sympathetic to her and as a father of three daughters, I was enraged at how she was treated over those years. Ms. Carlson was poised, strong and sought justice for the injustice wrought on her. She was passionate, articulate and poised on a very difficult interview and on traumatic issues. You should watch this if you can – it was emotional and raw, and anyone in this field needs to see it.
The episode also continued to offer general advice from HR professionals and told another story by someone without the gravitas of Ms. Carlson, a woman named Lauren Jones. Here is a link to her interview which was part 5 of the episode: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/hr-experts-advice-handling-sexual-harassment-work-part-43648018
Interesting for all HR and ethics professional, she recorded much of the interaction with leadership, and you quickly see why retaliation is feared, and should be. It was this section of the episode that I took issue with. The advice offered was to “tolerate harassment until it has been at least three times and is so egregious that it may cause you to leave the company.”
Wow! Being forced to leave a company that permits and defends a culture of predatory behavior is wrong and I don’t care how you slice it.
I was reminded of President elect Trump’s comments when asked what advice he would give his daughter Ivanka if she was sexually harassed in an August 2, 2016 interview.
“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Trump said.
No. Sexual harassment is against the law, it is against most reasonable companies’ Code of Conduct, and certainly morally reprehensible. It saddens me that our culture dictates that when women are victimized by sexual predators, traumatized by these actions, that they should “quit and find a new job.” This behavior cannot and should not be endorsed or looked past. This is one of the primary motivations for companies implementing employee hotline and case management solutions – to gain a culture of transparency and refuse to allow tolerance of predatory conduct to persist. Case Management solutions should allow both named and anonymous reporting to protect those employees at risk or in fear of retaliation, and they should provide capabilities to identify repeat offenders. These systems should always be managed by third party firms in order to maintain the objectivity required for their effectiveness.
It has been our experience that two kinds of organizations implement solutions of this type. One type, has a legal compliance mandate that they need to comply with. There is little interest in the effectiveness of the solution, but a focus on regulatory compliance.
The other type of company believes in a work environment that is safe and predator free and that they want to encourage employees to share openly without fear of retaliation because they want to be a better place. They find longer tenured employees and higher efficiency. Greater company loyalty. A safe place.
I know that as CEO of our company, I feel a sacred trust with our employees to ensure them a safe workplace, free of predatory behavior and a transparent culture. I’d like to think that our customers agree as well.
J Rollins is the co-founder and CEO of ETHIX360. At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to employee communication and case management on issues related to corporate ethics, code of conduct, fraud, bribery, EH&S and workplace violence. To learn more about ETHIX360, please visit www.ethix360.com, or follow us on twitter @ethix360.