The Lawyer recently published an article highlighting some of the biggest City law firms’ lack of effort in combatting workplace harassment and bullying. In the article, these large firms are criticised for only doing the minimum, if that, to ensure workplace harassment does not go unnoticed and unidentified. When faced by The Lawyer with the question of how many people have been dismissed for inappropriate behaviour in the past year, many firms avoided answering the question.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, have men finally begun to grasp how widespread the issue of sexual harassment against women is?
The answer seems to be no, according to a new study which reflects how much men in the U.S.— and 12 European countries, including Britain — underestimate levels of harassment against women. While both sexes underestimate sexual harassment, but this tendency is more pronounced among men. Men in the US were asked to estimate the levels of sexual harassment experienced by women since the age of 15 as part of an Ipsos Mori survey on the “Perils of Perception”. Their estimates were at an average of 44 percent.
The headline is sadly too familiar. We’re told how many more victims have now come forward since the first allegation of sexual misconduct against the previously well-respected celebrity. Victims who knew the perpetrator in a professional capacity with accounts that stretch back to when they, now in the twilight of their career, were in their youth. The reader’s suspicions are confirmed that the abuse was either left unnoticed, ignored, or sadly, but most likely, swept under the carpet for decades. Of course, the unfortunate reality is that for every celebrity in the headlines there are many more non-celebrities whose acts are equally appalling but not newsworthy.
In acknowledgment of this, on May 10th, 2018 the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act was passed with the aim of protecting all employees in New York from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Act places a requirement on New York employers to review their policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment and provide annual anti-sexual harassment training to their staff.
VinciWorks realized that sexual harassment was an issue that was vital to address from a compliance perspective when the #MeToo movement revealed the shocking prevalence of abuse within society. We began by conducting some research into why workplace sexual harassment was still rifeand worryingly found that 50% of respondents didn’t think their organization would deal with a report of sexual harassment very seriously. It confirmed what we already suspected – harassment is a topic that needs to look at the end point first and ask the toughest question: is there a culture of sexual harassment within this organization?
On Wednesday, 21 November, at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London, VinciWorks attended the prestigious Learning Technologies Awards 2018 as finalists in the “Best use of mobile learning” category for our #MeToo-inspired sexual harassment course, MyStory. The annual awards celebrate excellence in learning technology and this year, up against giants such as L’Oreal, Air France and winners John Lewis, we were honoured to have MyStory nominated.
In the category with the most nominees of the evening, John Lewis claimed the Gold award for their series of bite-size, self-led web app resources were made accessible via the device.
About VinciWorks’ sexual harassment training
MyStory: Harassment and Bullying at Work directly applies the powerful lessons of the recent global outcry against sexual harassment in the workplace through innovative storytelling and a mobile-first design. Soon to be available to download on app stores for free, the course changes the paradigm of previously ineffective, legalistic harassment training by bringing real stories of harassment to life. The course connects users to a global movement and provides everyone with a safe platform to raise their voice against bullying and harassment at work.
In a survey carried out by VinciWorks, a staggering 50% of respondents said they weren’t confident their organisation would deal with a report of sexual harassment very seriously. And worse, 10% of respondents said that they had been shown sexually explicit or inappropriate content at work. The results of this survey and others evidence that in an environment where harassment is tolerated and complaints ignored, abuse will thrive. Sadly, a study by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission critically shows that 75% of victims don’t report abuse because they fear retaliation, whilst 75% of victims who did report abuse experienced retaliation.
VinciWorks has released a new mobile-first e-learning course on harassment and bullying at work. MyStory: Harassment and Bullying at Work has directly applied the lessons of the #MeToo movement and the wealth of research into why traditional sexual harassment training doesn’t work to create a brand new kind of anti-harassment experience.
#MeToo launched a movement against sexual harassment through the simplest but bravest act of people sharing their stories. Women and men who had been targeted by predators, subjected to appalling behaviors and victimized by their harassers said no more, enough is enough. They gave abusers nowhere to hide, and employers no room to shield the perpetrators.
When it comes to any potential foul play at work, it is important that employees understand when they should share their concerns, who they should share them with and how to do so. In order to ensure all your staff feel comfortable raising any concerns they have regarding whether staff or clients are involved or assisting in sexual harassment, we have created a detailed whistleblowing policy template. The template can easily be edited to include relevant contact information, the company name and any company-specific procedures. The template is fully compliant with the New York State and City sexual harassment regulations.
On October 9, 2018, New York State’s sexual harassment law, officially known as the New York Labor Law, came into force following final amendments. Under the new legislation, companies with staff in New York State must have implemented sexual harassment training for all staff. One of the key amendments to the legislation is that the training must now be completed by October 9, 2019, rather than by January 2019.
New York State Human Rights Law was amended in April 2018 to protect non-employees, i.e. 1099ers, contractors, vendors and consultants, from sexual harassment in the workplace. An employer may be found liable if they failed to take immediate action against harassment of a non-employee. This is an important change because prior to April 2019, you had to be a W2 employee to be covered by the state sexual harassment law which was similar to the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On October 1, 2019, final amendments were made to the New York State law, in force from October 9. All companies with employees in New York State should be reevaluating their current sexual harassment policies and ensure they are up-to-date.
VinciWorks has created a sexual harassment policy template that complies with New York City and State laws. The template can easily be edited to suit your organization and include the details of relevant contact people. You can download the policy template by completing the form below.
MyStory directly applies the powerful lessons of the recent global outcry against sexual harassment in the workplace through innovative storytelling and a mobile-first design. Soon to be available to download on app stores for free, the course changes the paradigm of previously ineffective, legalistic harassment training by bringing real stories of harassment to life. The course connects users to a global movement and provides everyone with a safe platform to raise their voice against bullying and harassment at work.