November 2017
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November 2017
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Cultural Change Is Needed to End Harassment in the Workplace

Thursday, November 2, 2017

In the wake of the numerous high-profile sexual harassment cases in the media today, many employers are thinking about how to effectively prevent such behavior in their own organizations. Unfortunately, traditional training methods are ineffective at preventing offensive workplace behaviors and are more of a strategic defense against lawsuits than a solution to a pervasive problem. “Over 90 percent of large U.S. employers have harassment trainings in place, but it’s having very little effect, if no discernible effect, on the overall number of harassment complaints that are reported,” said Harvard sociologist Frank Dobbin. “I don’t think we can sit around and wait for training to solve the problem.” To get to the root of the problem, systemic inequalities in the workplace must be addressed. “There are two things that are really problematic,” Dobbin says. “One is when there are huge power differentials between men and women, and the other problem is when you have huge differentials in the gender composition of a job.” If companies truly want to stop harassment, they should work on changing their cultures of inequality and closing gender gaps, such as increasing the numbers of women in leadership roles and following through on the concept that harassment of any type will not be tolerated. 



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