Anti-harassment Training: 10 Top Tips for getting it right
Looking for anti-harassment training that’s not just another “tick the box” exercise, but that really makes a difference?
Based on our research and our work with a number of companies over the last few years, here are our 10 ‘top tips’ for designing and delivering effective anti-harassment training.
(And this applies to any kind of diversity/ inclusion training.)
1. Start with a clear message from the top.
Having a clear communication and commitment from the senior most leaders in the company can make or break the effectiveness of any intervention.
2. Go bespoke.
Create a programme that resonates with people and with the culture of the organisation (not something generic or ‘off the shelf’).
3. Do it face to face - in person, or in live online sessions.
It is worth the investment and shows that the organisation is serious about it.
(You can’t ‘click through’ a face to face session!)
4. Focus on behaviour.
You need to cover off the policy and laws, but the focus should be on helping people understand the impact of their everyday behaviours and interactions inside and outside work.
This includes little things like micro-aggressions and micro-inequities, as well as and our behaviour online/ on social media – that contribute to creating a culture of respect and equality.
5. Use experiential pedagogy.
People learn from practice and experience more so than they do from lecture-style information delivery.
Get people talking and engaged in activities as far as possible rather than just delivering information.
6. Don’t forget about bystanders.
The problem is not just about the few “bad apples” or the isolated cases that make the headlines, but about all the individuals around them who saw and heard and felt uncomfortable, but didn’t feel able to say or do anything.
How can we teach people to act and speak up if they witness harassment?
This is key to changing the culture.
7. Have the difficult conversations
Don’t avoid the topics that really matter.
Make it OK to ask questions and have an open and honest discussion – e.g. about race and age and faith and sexual orientation, about grey areas and what is ok and what’s not when it comes to interaction at work.
Sexual harassment tends to co-occur with other forms of bullying and harassment.
Open the dialogue and let people learn from their peers.
8. Take a gender-partnership approach.
Involve and engage everyone in the discussion.
The traditional narrative often focusses exclusively on those who identify as "women" as potential victims and those who identify as "men" as potential perpetrators’.
The best chance we have at addressing this issue is by facilitating an inclusive discussion for the betterment of everyone's working environment.
9. Take an aspirational not punitive tone.
We do need to tell people the rules and be clear about the consequences and what “not” to do, but we also want to motivate them intrinsically.
So, design your training in a way that inspires people to want to work together, and highlight their role in the change.
10. Take a holistic, strategic view.
Training is one part of the solution, but cannot work in isolation.
Deliver the training in the context of wider changes (e.g. to policy, leadership, communication, practices) so that the different interventions are all aligned and working to the same goal of culture change.
And don’t leave it as a one-off exercise. Follow up, and keep the momentum going through forums and discussions.
Finally, remember that this is a difficult and sensitive issue for everyone – not just those in HR facing the fire, but for people in all industries and walks of life, across the globe.
Let’s see this not as a threat, but as an opportunity to turn things around, to improve the daily lives of the people who work in our organisations, and whose lives we impact inside and outside work.
Put the tick-box sheet away and look at what we can achieve if we do this right.