Sexual Harassment Training – An Ongoing Need

While there is much needed attention being paid to today to the #METOO and #TIMESUP movements and the issues of sexual harassment and intimidation in the workplace, the article below reminds us that these issues in the workplace and in our society are not new. The excerpt below is from the 17 November 1992 issue of The Cincinnati Enquirer (click here for a copy of the article) following Judith Katz’s training with the University of Cincinnati on sexual harassment.

For over 30 years, KJCG has been assisting organizations address sexual harassment in the workplace and identifying ways to for organizations create work environments that are safe enough for everyone to do their best work.

Executives from companies across the nation Monday heard an address on sexual harassment in the workplace by Judith H. Katz, a consultant, educator and author who is a vice president of The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Cincinnati. She spoke during a conference on managing diversity in the workplace that was sponsored by the University of Cincinnati College of Evening and Continuing Education.

In a separate interview, Katz answered a series of questions on sexual harassment from Enquirer reporter Margaret Josten.

Question: How does an employer prevent sexual harassment of women in the workplace?

Answer: The more we consider the kind of workplace we want, the more skills we acquire in the area of what do we want, versus what we don’t want. We don’t have very many positive models of men and women working together. We need new ways of learning how to deal with attraction in the workplace. We have to develop rules for the workplace regarding acceptable behavior. Employers should institute awareness training, education programs and make it clear the perpetrating sexual harassment is not acceptable. Employers should include sexual harassment in their codes of conduct—an enforce it.

Q: What should an employer do about harassment of women?

A: If harassment is going on, it has to stop. If managers know about it, they have a legal obligation to address it. They can’t just say, “That’s the way he is or the way she is.” Managers must remember they and their organizations can be held legally liable. The employer must not look upon sexual harassment as an interpersonal issue: “Those two people can’t get along.” The employer must realize it’s not an issue of somebody’s quirks or needs.

Q: Why is sexual harassment such an important issue for employers?

A: If I’m in a meeting and I have to deal with sexual innuendo, how am I going to be effective? Women are in the workplace to work, but sexual harassment is preventing them from doing their jobs. If they spend their energy wondering how they are going to be harassed, how are they going to do their jobs? Fundamentally, sexual harassment detracts from the productivity of the workplace and the effectiveness of the organization. If I’m a manager and half my people are spending energy dealing with harassment, the team is not performing at its best. And that ultimately impacts negatively on the bottom line.

Q: Do employers understand the seriousness of sexual harassment?

A: I think most organizations don’t have any understanding of the scope or depth or pervasiveness of the issue. It has been going on forever. Anita Hill’s charges and the way she was treated in the Clarence Thomas hearings brought it to the table. Organizations must learn they can’t have an atmosphere where people feel diminished.

Alison VanDerVolgenComment