Harassment in the Workplace training

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DarkOne
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Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by DarkOne » Mon Jun 5, 13:17 2017

Every year my place of employment requires employees to complete recurrent general harassment/sexual harassment training in some form or other. The training provides some scenarios with simulated dialogue and then company policy pointers. The main scenario played out this year is along the lines of this: woman spills coffee, man 1 makes joke about wishing she'd spilled it down her shirt, man 2 makes reference to wet t-shirt contest. Then a few references about harassment based on race (use of racially derogatory language TO someone in a protected class) and some more generic company policy. The examples are so outrageously un-PC that they make the training borderline irrelevant for 2017. It almost feels like something from the 1990's, like we're *just* starting to openly talk about what sexual harassment is and why it's a no-no. I'm all for starting at the obvious and then delving into the not-so-obvious, but that was pretty much it for the training. Very token, Cover-Your-Ass training. Yes, a main purpose of the training is to identify * strictly illegal* harassment, but it's also supposed to address unacceptable workplace behaviors even if legal.

I feel like this kind of training does more harm than it does help. By failing to address subtle examples of a hostile work environment, it almost institutionally condones them: "it wasn't mentioned in the training, so it's fine." It reminded me of an opinion piece I read about a year ago regarding subtle sexism in the workplace. In the piece, the writer says,
Institutions have formal complaint mechanisms for people who have been subject to illegal gender discrimination and harassment. But microaggression may have the potential to cause more widespread harm. And because it doesn't seem to be actionable, examples often go unreported.
The author advocates for raising awareness, as opposed to inaction, in the face of this subtle sexism, but I confess I'm not personally inclined to do so, which makes me a part of the problem, I guess. I'm at a point in my career where I have established my technical competency and could, in theory, start bringing this stuff up with less fear that it will impact my career path. But I wouldn't put money that doing so won't affect my progress.

So my questions to you all are:
[1]Do you and your co-workers get any kind of sexual harassment training, or training about discrimination in general, at your place of employment? If you do, do you feel it is *any* kind of helpful? Is it relevant?
and
[2] Do you actually raise any issues of subtly harassing behavior with your bosses or colleagues, be it situations that affect you or a co-worker? Do you pick and choose your battles? Based on what?
Last edited by DarkOne on Mon Jun 5, 17:26 2017, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Nachos » Mon Jun 5, 13:37 2017

I've worked in small places so far and no. No training, no comments about what to do if one is harassed, just a mention in the contract that bullying is not ok.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Taurwen » Mon Jun 5, 17:21 2017

No, when we're hired we have to read a book about how welcoming the company considers itself so any assholery will not be tolerated. But similarly, the things they write about are so outdated. I didn't even recognize a couple of the terms used in the examples, so it's probably only been token updated (adding sexual orientation and things like that) in the last 30 years.

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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by rowan » Mon Jun 5, 18:58 2017

I've had training before but not at my current place. A couple of thoughts on training:
1) the obvious stuff is, sadly, not as obvious as one might think and I have heard (and dealt with) some real serious bullshit in the workplace. I agree it's harmful to have the obvious stuff the ONLY stuff but we still need it.
2) we REALLY SUPER NEED training on the subtle crap, subconscious biases, and some serious actual real equity training (but it will never happen where I am)

In terms of raising issues... power differentials are a thing. I have had raising issues get me fired. Oh but of course it wasn't called that, no no, certainly not. Wouldn't want to leave open the ability to sue. (I probably should have talked to a lawyer anyway)
In my current job, I raise issues anyway but I do pick battles, and it depends on with whom and how much energy I have right then. If I were better I'd do it every time but that's just so exhausting.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Yorkshirebear » Tue Jun 6, 7:26 2017

So I work in a male dominated job, its outdoors and manual we've had females work here but never stay for too long (normally for either health reasons or finding better suited jobs). The only remote kind of training we got in this relevance was from one of the few females that stayed and simply put it was "touch my ass I'll knock you the f**k out" simple and effective in my opinion this works better than any sort of "training". It should be a basic human instinct. I know you always get that one person that tries and they should be shut down not just by the person its directed at but more by the people around as well. Regardless of what job role/title you have if you see or hear about it, it should be stopped. I feel like most of the training that takes place is outdated though, from hearing friends go on about when they receive training on the matter it seems very gender specific for example
woman spills coffee, man 1 makes joke about wishing she'd spilled it down her shirt, man 2 makes reference to wet t-shirt contest.

I think this shouldn't be how these training courses should be held because it seems like its constantly the men who are to blame for harassment, which I do understand is a factor but it happens from all genders and races. If there is a majority then they will subconsciously find themselves superior in that workplace. I fell like that needs to be addressed more than the idea of its always Male vs Female or White vs Colored ( apologies if this is the incorrect term, still trying to learn the correct terms :) )
Not totally relevant but just throwing my opinion in :)
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Sonic# » Tue Jun 6, 9:30 2017

At my current workplace, the sexual harassment training was so similar to what DarkOne describes that I wouldn't be surprised if they were created by the same company. They featured videos run through an online portal with animated situations that were performed and then discussed ([fake quote] "at what point in this scenario did these guys cross the line into Sexual Harassment [tm]?"). They were pretty basic, but probably necessary to cover both for worker safety and company liability. The most useful parts were them raising the idea that comments one may see as incidental may nonetheless do harm, a brief gesture that acknowledges microaggressions.

This is the first place I worked where I received that training. As a graduate student worker, we had one seminar on teaching and diversity that was also quite basic. (The professor started by picking people out and stereotyping them.) There was nothing about what to do in response to microaggressions or harassment from superiors. Might've been a good idea; I was familiar with at least two cases within my department while I was there. (Both accused professors are still there, but one of their targets left the university.)

I haven't been witness to harassment in the workplace directly. I try to be aware of microaggressions, but I mainly find them outside of my own workplace - at conferences, for instance. Alternatively, I've seen microaggressions used against colleagues by students or other non-coworkers. I've pointed these out, but there's not much that can be done if the student is still within the honor code.
If there is a majority then they will subconsciously find themselves superior in that workplace.
I've almost always been in work situations where there are more women than men. My weekly staff meetings are that way. Several programs within my school are that way, including my own. If they feel superior, I don't notice it. On the contrary, it's still been in those situations that men have harassed women. I concede it's possible that women might harass other people, and a more robust training program should cover that, but let's also acknowledge that these workplaces exist within a larger culture that still gives more prominence to maleness and whiteness.

Whatever someone is feeling in their subconscious, I want them to consciously behave with a basic modicum of respect in the workplace. I want them to have occasions to reflect on what they do and make an effort to do better. I want them to give a fuck about other people feeling okay in that space, rather than treating potential meetings as a joke. And I want the company itself to give more of a fuck than going through the motions for the sake of nipping liability lawsuits in the bud, because that's one reason why such training is treated as a joke.

Finally, if you have to threaten violence against other people just to have your own wishes about being touched respected, then that place has issues.

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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Ileen Kotter » Tue Jun 13, 22:21 2017

DarkOne wrote:Every year my place of employment requires employees to complete recurrent general harassment/sexual harassment training in some form or other. The training provides some scenarios with simulated dialogue and then company policy pointers. The main scenario played out this year is along the lines of this: woman spills coffee, man 1 makes joke about wishing she'd spilled it down her shirt, man 2 makes reference to wet t-shirt contest. Then a few references about harassment based on race (use of racially derogatory language TO someone in a protected class) and some more generic company policy. The examples are so outrageously un-PC that they make the training borderline irrelevant for 2017. It almost feels like something from the 1990's, like we're *just* starting to openly talk about what sexual harassment is and why it's a no-no. I'm all for starting at the obvious and then delving into the not-so-obvious, but that was pretty much it for the training. Very token, Cover-Your-Ass training. Yes, a main purpose of the training is to identify * strictly illegal* harassment, but it's also supposed to address unacceptable workplace behaviors even if legal.

I feel like this kind of training does more harm than it does help. By failing to address subtle examples of a hostile work environment, it almost institutionally condones them: "it wasn't mentioned in the training, so it's fine." It reminded me of an opinion piece I read about a year ago regarding subtle sexism in the workplace. In the piece, the writer says,
Institutions have formal complaint mechanisms for people who have been subject to illegal gender discrimination and harassment. But microaggression may have the potential to cause more widespread harm. And because it doesn't seem to be actionable, examples often go unreported.
The author advocates for raising awareness, as opposed to inaction, in the face of this subtle sexism, but I confess I'm not personally inclined to do so, which makes me a part of the problem, I guess. I'm at a point in my career where I have established my technical competency and could, in theory, start bringing this stuff up with less fear that it will impact my career path. But I wouldn't put money that doing so won't affect my progress.

So my questions to you all are:
[1]Do you and your co-workers get any kind of sexual harassment training, or training about discrimination in general, at your place of employment? If you do, do you feel it is *any* kind of helpful? Is it relevant?
and
[2] Do you actually raise any issues of subtly harassing behavior with your bosses or colleagues, be it situations that affect you or a co-worker? Do you pick and choose your battles? Based on what?
First of all, we need to look at what goes on beyond training. Why did your managers feel the need to you to attend a training such as this. Are there issues reported at work, but your HR is not able to get additional information on the issue because people just do not know how to react in these situations? That's one way to look at it.

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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by rowan » Tue Jun 13, 22:27 2017

Lots of workplaces just have mandatory training with vague hopes that it'll prevent things.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by DarkOne » Wed Jun 14, 4:24 2017

Ileen Kotter wrote:First of all, we need to look at what goes on beyond training...
Yes, like Rowan said, this is mandatory training to (at least) all employees with certain job responsibilities. It has been mandatory the entire time I've worked here, and I was mandatory at my previous place of employment. This kind of training, along with other legal, security and ethics training, seems to be pretty standard among larger US employers. I think it is partly driven by hopes to improve the workplace, partly by legal liability concerns, but this last training left me feeling it was more the latter than the former.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by geldofc » Fri Jul 21, 3:57 2017

i do appreciate any sexual harassment training a job i've had has provided, but i've worked in toxic environments that give out crumbs as far as that goes. i actually feel like it helps a little even if it is not well orchestrated. haha.

i definitely pick and choose my battles when i demonstrate issues of harassment and sexism, based on my mental health and fatigue. i get fatigued and feel overextended a lot even though i'm not doing much.
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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Keen » Thu Jul 27, 9:06 2017

There will always be harrasment and no way to stop it, I recommend ignoring them, if it becomes physical report it as assault to the police

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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by Taurwen » Thu Jul 27, 12:23 2017

You seem pretty keen on the status quo. Is there no value in bettering situations/things?

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Re: Harassment in the Workplace training

Post by susieq244 » Sat Jul 29, 4:41 2017

Never have I ever received any training on the subject of workplace harassment. In my current job, there is also no way of really reporting anything of that nature as the perpetrator generally just gets some sort of 'warning.' I work in a very small team, so for it to get back to any of them that I reported them would make for a pretty bad experience at work. That's not to say I wouldn't report it, I definitely would, but there's no proper protection for the victim should they decide to speak up.
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