By Norman Ford
Workplace harassment, victimization, or ‘mobbing’ as it is known in some countries, is just one example of the challenge workplace misconduct presents to both employers and employees today. And it is truly a global concern, a problem that is not isolated to one region and anyone can be a target.
Whether you are male or female, of any age, race or religion, or an individual with a disability, you can encounter some form of work-related offense. The situation can get even more complex should it also involve a case of retaliation, when the individual reporting the transgression receives some sort of punishment or mistreatment as a consequence.
Unfortunately, despite regulatory fines, violations are common and occur across all sectors of industry and business. However, it is hoped that the current trend of increased enforcement, coupled with a greater awareness of these types of compliance issues – which thanks to the new age of social media and technology have made it easier for brands to find themselves in the public eye and under scrutiny on a global level – will have the desired impact.
Why is this important?
For a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the financial cost. In the US alone, the EEOC resolved 97,443 charges and secured more than $482 million for victims of discrimination in private, federal and state and local government workplaces in 2016. (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Enforcement and Litigation Data – Web-1.2017)
Or the sheer prevalence of the behavior. In the UK, researchers from the Trades Union Congress and Everyday Sexism Project recently found 52% of women had experienced unwanted behavior at work. (Trades Union Congress – Nearly two in three young women have experienced sexual harassment at work, TUC survey reveals – Web-8.2016)
To drive change we are seeing a greater push on employers as global regulatory laws transfer the burden onto organizations, thereby encouraging them to seek and implement preventative measures. For employers today, a strong anti-harassment compliance program is a must since adhering to laws prohibiting discrimination, awareness of bullying, and being responsible for an employee’s psychological well-being- which includes workplace stress- all fall to the employer who can now be held liable for any action that might arise and cause harm to an employee.
Aside from the indirect impact from low productivity, attrition and morale, and potential damage to the company’s image and brand, workplace harassment presents a significant financial risk to organizations, making it essential that training options are available in a method that adapts to each target audience, regardless of employee location.
This may mean expanded and localized content tailored for both management and employees; it also means employers should strive to create an open environment where employees feel safe to raise concerns and have the confidence that such concerns will not fall on deaf ears.
Preventative measures and fostering a respectful workplace is the best form of employer protection. Ensuring your organization takes appropriate steps to avoid, and correct unlawful misconduct is essential in building an ethical culture where employees understand violations are not tolerated.
Our Compliance Training Solutions provide a full suite of anti-harassment training that helps organizations promote a healthy work environment, adhere to legislation and develop an organic and symbiotic relationship between compliance and company culture. Furthermore, our content utilizes a global adaptation strategy that combines the highest standard for content translation with a keen sensitivity to local culture, making it particularly relevant in today’s global workforce.
Norman Ford is the VP of Compliance Operations at Skillsoft Compliance Solutions.