The recent tsunami of media stories about sexual harassment signals the deep need for a cultural reset in the workplace, one that will require all organizations to put in place new processes and new training. Leaders and managers simply cannot afford to maintain the status quo.
- Containment. Restrain the dangerous individual engaged in harassment behavior.
- Caregiving. Provide help to the targets of harassment and the people who’ve been exposed to it, such as witnesses or close colleagues of the target.
- Forgiveness. This does not mean absolving the offender or forgetting what happened. It means forgiving people for allowing harassment to happen. Kim Cameron at the University of Michigan has written incisively about why forgiveness is essential to recovery after harm and damage have occurred at work.
- Resilience. The organization must bounce back from the tragedy of the incident.
Sexual aggressors destroy lives, leaving long legacies of suffering. Yet sexual harassment in the workplace is an occupational health problem that does not occur in isolation. Rather, it’s generally a result of cumulative events and thus predictable and preventable. Workplace sexual harassment is no accident, and with proper surveillance and prevention mechanisms, it may be eliminated altogether.The Big Idea