The #MeToo movement has cast a spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace. That spotlight is shaping public opinion, which in turn, is influencing the best practices employers follow, as well as the policies they implement. Partially in response to these changes, a host of legal developments have altered the legal landscape affecting workplace harassment, including Senate Bill 1343. Beginning this year, employers with 5 or more employees must provide harassment prevention training for all of its employees – full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal – before January 1, 2020.
NCG is offering two training webinars for members – one for non-supervisors and one for supervisors that you and your organizations can attend. Most NCG members fall under the criteria of 5 or more employees. These training webinars are built for you and our sector to examine recent legal developments, an employer’s obligation to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace and its duty to respond to those complaints when they arise. There will be ample room for participant engagement, including space towards the end of the training for any unanswered questions. Learn more about the trainings >
Read more about the requirements below.
New California sexual harassment law requires small businesses to take action
by Jill Pappenheimer, North Bay Business Journal
Forty-hour work weeks are a thing of the past for most working Americans.
In 2017, the average full-time employee working Monday through Friday put in more than 8.5 hours per day, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. And when more people spend more time at work, sexual harassment can become more prevalent.
Workplace cultures where inappropriate behavior occurs and/or goes unpunished is no longer tolerated as status quo. That’s why activists and sympathetic lawmakers across the country are advocating for more sexual harassment awareness training, and to make these exercises more frequent and thorough.
California State Bill 1343, which lays out new workplace sexual harassment prevention training requirements for companies headquartered in the state, is a manifestation of that advocacy. Passed last year, the bill lowered the minimum number of employees required for a company to provide sexual harassment prevention training from 50 to five.
Moreover, it extended the participant requirements from just employees in supervisory roles to all employees.
The bill requires training to be “interactive,” and states online training is sufficient, but as anyone who has sat through two hours of even well-produced online training knows, the experience usually ends up being less rewarding and enlightening and more just an annoyance you have to get through. Online training is technically “interactive,” so many are asking if online training is a sufficient way to change mindsets or increase awareness about a serious subject like workplace harassment. Here the definition of “interactive” is so broad that results aren’t likely to be effective.
Even with the more expansive requirements of SB 1343, it is up to the businesses to create more engaged workplace cultures, and, ultimately, end workplace sexual harassment and bullying. In the light of the #MeToo movement, the public and employees are placing far greater emphasis on companies’ values and actions regarding harassment.
Since the beginning of the movement, dozens of high-profile companies and business leaders have been brought down by news about sexual harassment misconduct, whether that’s because of the personal actions of those in power or failing to correct flawed workplace cultures. As awareness continues to mount, there will be consequences for businesses that fail to keep up with the higher standards increasingly expected of them.
Against this background, opting for the bare-minimum webinar is a false economy. It’s not just that the interactive classroom setting has been proven to lead to better knowledge retention, increased learning and more engaged positive experiences.
It’s also because such a sensitive topic, one that involves the actual relationships between the employees, the interactivity between participants during training can be the key to creating the heightened awareness, safety to speak out, and empathy and support among employees that defines a healthy workplace culture.
In addition to the training, and even more importantly, creation of zero tolerance policies backed by strong leadership is key. CEOs must lead with integrity, honesty, transparency and positive interactions with staff – they must lead by example. If leaders show up differently, their behavior will resonate throughout the organization. Leadership must demonstrate and mentor to create change, because change starts from the top.
For those small to mid-size organizations that cannot afford to hire strong human resources professionals to help create this shift in culture alongside leadership, then outsourcing HR and sexual harassment awareness training is a good option.
With outsourced HR services, companies can bring in subject matter experts — people who would normally command large salaries — for consulting projects, interim support and training. The alternative to holding a training at a company site is to send an employee to a public training for increased breadth and exposure, while engaging with people from other companies.