Why Take a Sexual Harassment Training Course?

Workplace sexual harassment remains an unfortunate and uncomfortable reality. With recent shifts towards creating more accepting, diverse, and happier workplaces, it is no surprise that there has been a proliferation in companies providing awareness training. Indeed, more and more companies now recognize that they, as employers, are responsible for sexual harassment prevention.

Based on US laws, in particular, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace has been considered a kind of discrimination. Since then, further laws have been established. For example, the 1991 extension of the Act allows a victim of sexual harassment to seek financial and punitive damages. Moreover, in recent years, certain states are now required to have a workplace sexual harassment policy.

In this short article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the content of sexual harassment training courses, who should take them, and their benefits.

Why is Sexual Harassment Training So Important?

Sadly, workplace sexual harassment is scarily commonplace – and it can be hard to know how to effectively combat it in work environments.

That’s why sexual harassment awareness training is so important.

As we’ll go on to explain, training has a multitude of beneficial impacts; it prevents perpetrators by teaching boundaries of acceptable behavior, it can empower a victim to speak out, it creates a happier (and more productive) workplace, and it offers legal safeguarding to companies.

Before we consider who needs training – and why – let’s first breakdown what sexual harassment training includes.

What is the Sexual Harassment Training Course?

Sexual Harassment Training Courses will vary between providers. Some may be online training that utilizes video whereas others will focus on in-person activities. However, a focus on sexual harassment prevention and sexual harassment awareness remains the same.

Often, courses will begin with sexual harassment awareness training. The laws surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace will be explained. They will consider what types of behavior are acceptable and unacceptable within the workplace. In this way, those undertaking training can learn and, therefore, identify the different forms of sexual harassment. For example –

Through learning the forms of harassment, employers and employees will be better equipped to identify forms of harassment if they witness or experience it themselves. Likewise, they also will be aware of whether their own behavior has blurred the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable. As such, they can take action to conduct themselves more appropriately in the workplace in the future – to avoid complaints and create safer surroundings. Indeed, awareness can actually be a pivotal prevention technique against actions of workplace harassment.

Next, the focus shifts towards sexual harassment prevention training. For example, those on these courses will often help draft a sexual harassment policy. They will consider the ways to prevent the behavior from occurring, ways to protect individuals, and how to report harassment.

Sadly, a victim of workplace harassment may not always know who or where to turn to. That’s why these courses teach firms to create a sexual harassment policy and provide a copy of this to all employees. As such, all employees will be aware of the moral standards of the workplace, and more importantly, any victim will understand how to report any incidents.

Many courses often have a separate module regarding the reporting process because this is often highly legalistic and, therefore, quite complicated. Training providers will consider the steps to reporting, appropriate investigation procedures, and issues of mediation, i.e., when is mediation appropriate or necessary? A clear complaint procedure is essential to tackling sexual harassment so many courses will help you understand how to put in place an effective complaint process.

Who Should Take a Sexual Harassment Course?

In some states, such as New York, companies are legally required to offer sexual harassment training to those at all levels of the business. Consequently, any companies within such states would have a legal requirement to provide sexual harassment awareness training.

Nevertheless, outside of those with a legal obligation, many people should partake in training.

In particular, those in positions of authority and leadership should undertake sexual harassment training. For example, Managers, Supervisors, Human Resources Teams, or Business Owners. Those in leadership need to be proactive with sexual harassment as it affects employers in a multitude of ways (as we will discuss below).

More generally, any person who wants to have a more comprehensive understanding and awareness of the issues of sexual harassment should sign up. In fact, that is why many businesses now offer these courses to all employees as part of business-wide training strategies.

Ultimately, every person in a business should understand sexual harassment prevention.

Why Should my Team Take a Course?

Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable reality, so it can feel easier to avoid the issue then confront it. However, these courses reap so many benefits to the workplace that in 2020 there really is no reason not to enroll.

Ultimately, workplace sexual harassment is not an individual problem but a collective. Regardless of if you, as an individual, have never experienced it, harassment contributes to a toxic work environment. Unsurprisingly, this impacts employee morale and, thus, harms work performance.

Training creates an environment where employees know they will not be judged or punished for sexual harassment complaints but rather supported and protected. Training also highlights that you, as an employer, care about harassment and will be responsive to any incidents.

In fact, it also has a wider benefit outside of work as this training empowers individuals to combat harassment in other areas of their lives in which they witness or unfortunately experience it taking place.

Not only do these courses embolden victims to speak out, but they also are a form of prevention too.

Obviously, in an ideal world, everyone would understand which behaviors are appropriate. However, education and information have the ability to change a person’s behavior. Through providing information on what constitutes harassment, training draws attention to how employees should conduct themselves appropriately within the workplace.

These courses are also a form of legal safeguarding for businesses. They protect the wider company from being held liable if an individual employee is found guilty of sexual harassment. Why?

Well, the training is a form of proof of preventative employment action against workplace harassment. In fact, these courses equip companies with the resources to handle such issues internally so action can simply be taken against the individual perpetrator than the business as a whole.

When it comes to sexual harassment prevention in the workplace, education is key. These training sessions have a proven success rate to combat unwanted employee behaviors and the hostile environment which workplace harassment creates. Moreover, the information they provide surrounding reporting and complaining is invaluable to any victim who wants to speak out.