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.
What we learned from #MeToo
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 rife and 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?
Harassment and bullying doesn’t occur because people don’t know any better. People know what’s inappropriate and what’s not. They know what is considered 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. For as long as abusers have somewhere to hide, for as long as people are more comfortable with silence than with transparency, sexual harassment will continue as unchecked as ever. So whilst in early April hundreds of New York City’s esteemed representatives met at the Cipriani Wall Street and poured praise upon the new legislation, it is vital to keep in mind that the fear of having the legitimacy of a sexual harassment claim being undermined or disbelieved remains at the heart of the issue. To that end, no amount of conventional compliance training will tackle sexual harassment effectively.
Harassment – the need to raise awareness
That is why we developed our new course – MyStory: Harassment and Bullying at Work. We believe that to satisfy the requirement of delivering training, there is no better starting point than a course that aims to break the silence surrounding sexual harassment and the taboo of being a victim. MyStory is a powerful app and course that deviates from the traditional method of delivering online training, exposing the bare face of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. As with all of our training, user activity is fully trackable and our learning management systems can automate the process of following up with users that have not completed the course.
The new law states that the company’s training must be interactive. This is something that VinciWorks does naturally. We specialize in the creation of thought provoking courses that have revolutionized the way a user interacts with the training material, forcing them to truly consider how the relevant topic manifests itself in their work life. MyStory consists of three engaging sections designed to bring the issue of sexual harassment to life and encourage the user to be proactive in taking a stand against it. The user hears stories of harassment in the workplace, helping them better understand how abuse unfolds and acknowledge the various types of conduct that are considered abusive. Hearing the stories from a personal perspective builds empathy, and questions are asked, or information provided, at the end of each story that tests user knowledge or explains further the relevance of the story in the context of city, state and federal law.
Harassment Training and the Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act
In that sense, although MyStory intentionally breaks away from the style you would typically associate with online compliance training, it still relates to the criteria laid out in the new Act that the training must meet. Primarily, aside from explaining what constitutes sexual harassment – something that is firmly embedded into the fabric of MyStory – the law states that any training must provide information on where employees can turn to for help both internally and from outside their organisation. MyStory contains direct links to federal complaints procedures and customisable links to internal complaints and reporting procedures.
The other strong message that MyStory sends is the importance of bystander intervention. There are nuggets within the course that encourage the user to appreciate the role they can play in clamping down on sexual harassment by appropriately reporting abuse that they have witnessed. Lastly, to provide a sense of empowerment to victims and witnesses, MyStory places an emphasis on the prohibition of retaliation from the employer, reassuring them that it is safe to lay to rest any fears they may have once had of coming forward. Businesses can also choose to have a sexual harassment whistleblowing portal embedded into the course.
This blend of emotive and practical content has been meticulously tailored and curated. It helps users feel part of the tide of global change bravely instigated by the #MeToo movement. A movement that has created a powerful momentum, instilling within lawmakers a compelling feeling that it is time to act.