Executives are Cleaning Up Their Act in the Wake of “Me Too” Movement

A third of business executives surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report changing their behavior to avoid actions that might be perceived as sexual harassment.

James Banks Jr., general counsel of SHRM, says executives report they are being more mindful of language in the workplace, avoiding specific topics or joking and changing policies and trainings as a result of publicity about Harvey Weinstein and the “Me Too” movement.

Banks spoke at a roundtable convened by the EEOC earlier this month on preventing harassment  in the workplace. SHRM is the largest organization of human resource professionals in the country, with 300,000 members who impact the lives of 115 million employees.

He says 62 percent of employers report they are “currently assessing their culture and identifying potential risks for sexual harassment, and 44 percent are developing or revising accountability measures.”

.According to Banks,  human resource professionals should take the following steps to improve the workplace culture of their employer:

  • Add workplace civility training components to encompass behaviors that may not meet the definition of illegal conduct;
  • Tailor training to the organization’s workforce rather than relying on generic, out-of-the-box programming;
  • Ensure that culture starts at the top but doesn’t stop there, involving all employees in living the organization’s culture;
  • Add training to onboarding activities  for ALL new hires, including the executive team.

POSTSCRIPT: It is encouraging, of course, that a third of executives are cleaning up their act on sexual harassment but it does raise a question about what the remaining two-thirds of executives are thinking.

No Argument: Civility Continues to Erode

A recent poll has found that civility is worsening, promoting political gridlock, causing people to disengage from politics and leading to intolerance of free speech.

These were the findings of the 8th installment of Civility in America, an online poll conducted in January by KRC Research of Washington, DC, for two public relations firms,  Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate. The survey was based on a representative sample of 1,481 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, drawn from a national consumer panel.

According to the poll:

  • 93% of the public agrees the nation has a civility problem, with 73% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats characterizing it as a “major” problem.
  • Nearly three-quarters of the public agree the problem has gotten worse compared to a few years ago.
  • Members of both parties generally agree that incivility is having or will have negative consequences for the U.S.
  • 83% of the public says incivility leads to intolerance of free speech.
  • 60% say incivility has led them to stop paying attention to political debates or conversations.
  • 59% say incivility is deterring people from entering public service.

One of the sharpest areas of disagreement concerned Republican President Donald Trump – 64% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats believe that President Trump is personally civil.  However, this finding echoes a similar finding in 2014 with respect to former Democratic President Barack Obama –  81 percent of Democrats said President Obama twas civil, compared to 14% of Republicans.

Last year, the poll found that politicians (64%) and the internet and social media (63%) share the blame for the rise of incivility. The news media (54%) was also blamed due instantaneous, nonstop media coverage that most (64%) believe makes incivility appear worse than it is.

* Note: The author, Patricia G. Barnes, J.D., offers civility and anti-harassment training to employers seeking to improve their workplace culture and boost their bottom line. Email barnespatg@gmail.com