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.
In this training, you won’t find a list of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. We won’t subject you to legalistic discussions about grey areas or discredit your lived experiences by treating harassment and bullying like some other compliance topic. It’s not.
Harassment and bullying don’t occur because people don’t know any better. People know what’s inappropriate and what’s not. They know what’s harassment, and what’s not. Predators and bullies choose to ignore it because they can and because they think they can get away with it. We want that to stop.
The three concepts: Experience, Explore and Share
We’ve built the course with three main intersecting components: Experience, Explore and Share. It’s up to the user to go through them at her or his own pace, and they can easily switch between the sections. The course has both a US version and a UK version, allowing users to select which is most appropriate for them.
In Experience, the user is presented with a series of short, sharp and hard hitting personal accounts of harassment, bullying or sexual harassment at work. While these are fictional accounts, they are drawn from the very real, all too common workplace experiences that at least half of all employees will go through in their working lives. After each story, users are asked one simple question about the subject, such as how many people do not report harassment. This anchors the stories in their real-world context. The stories are all narrated by professional voice actors, giving a powerful impact to the story.
Here, users can scroll through and explore the tweets, articles and videos which launched the #MeToo movement and helped it spread across the world. It’s crucial for people who are undertaking sexual harassment training to be conscious of the real world context of harassment. Someone working in an office cubicle has every right to benefit from the cultural shift of #MeToo as an actress in Hollywood. By bringing some of this tailored, curated content directly to the user, it helps them feel part of the tide of global change.
In Share, users are offered the opportunity to anonymously and securely share their personal story, and, separately, can agree for what they share to be used in future versions of the course. #MeToo is about people taking the brave step to openly and publicly share their personal experience, but it’s a very hard thing to do. We wanted to give users the opportunity to share, but without the added complexity and pressure of having to do so publicly, which not everyone can or wants to do. By offering the option to have their experiences included (anonymously) in future versions of the course, users feel their contribution can help others in the future.
The “seek help” function
We have included a Seek Help tab at the bottom of every menu. This tab is always available no matter where someone is in the course. It has a few functions. It includes links to various local organizations and helplines which can assist someone who has experienced any of the issues covered in the course, from getting advice about being discriminated against at work to reporting a crime.
Secondly, the Seek Help tab can be customized to include a direct link to your company’s harassment reporting system. If you don’t have one, we can help you set one up, along with an OmniTrack register to help you track and deal with complaints.
The aim of harassment training should be, at least in the short term, to increase the numbers of complaints entering the system. When the numbers go up, this means people are becoming less afraid of reporting harassment. Using our harassment assessment tool to measure workplace perception of harassment at regular intervals will help you monitor the effectiveness of your anti-harassment training, and pinpoint weak spots that you may want to address.
New harassment course focuses on outcomes
While there is a need to focus on the traditional compliance tools; better training, better policies, and better support, 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 in this workplace?
Part of the problem is that many people fear coming forward after they have experienced or witnessed abuse. Our research found that there is a clear chain of harassment. Abusers will often start with inappropriate touching and move on to more aggressive behaviors if they think they can get away with it. This is impacted by things like their position of authority or power, the culture of the workplace and the willingness of victims to speak out. In an environment where harassment is tolerated and complaints ignored, abuse will thrive. The importance of focusing on the outcomes of the training and the attitude of staff, rather than simply regurgitating a policy, is reflected in the course.
Mobile-first e-learning approach
While all of VinciWorks’ latest courses are mobile-friendly, this new course has been built with a mobile-first approach. Whilst it does work on a desktop, MyStory is best experienced on a mobile device, with headphones in. The reason for this is because we wanted to create a direct experience between the user and the content. Using MyStory in a personal space; on public transport, in the kitchen or break room, or even just at your desk but via a mobile device enables the space for private, quiet reflection that this kind of topic calls for.
MyStory – the message
The act of speaking up challenges the kinds of behaviors that turn workplaces into arenas of abuse. This training incorporates the powerful lessons of the #MeToo movement; that sharing a story, telling a personal experience, confronting the abusers and the workplace dynamics that protect them is how we can start to change workplace culture for the better.