Studies show traditional models of anti-harassment education don’t work, so AASAS developed Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment, a better path to workplace sexual harassment training.
What comes to mind when you think of workplace sexual harassment training?
Perhaps you envision a mandatory self-directed course as part of your onboarding, or a stuffy boardroom presentation. Maybe you’re worried something bad happened and everyone has to discuss it. Or maybe you’re hoping it gets a certain point across.
Often, educational programs discussing sexual harassment focus on the 3 Ps: prohibition, policy, and procedure. This tells the audience what sexual harassment is, not to do it, and what will happen if you do. These elements are important to creating corporate structure and accountability, but do they create sustained change and safer workplaces?
It turns out, no, they do not.
Didn’t work then, doesn’t work now.
The rate of incidents of workplace sexual harassment hasn’t changed in 40 years. It’s clear that what didn’t work then, still isn’t working today. With 25% of women and 17% of men reporting they had experienced inappropriate sexualized behaviours in their workplace in the past year (2020 Canadian study), change is needed.
The traditional models of anti-harassment education focus on the problem rather than the solution, framing the audience as people who have done wrong and need fixing. Studies have shown that negative framing leads to negative results. By depicting your audience as the problem, they are more likely to become defensive, resistant to change, and disengage from the issue entirely.
Training principles need updating.
The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) surveyed Albertans on their experience of workplace sexual harassment education programs. Only 6% of the sample indicated past training had helped them understand how to address sexual harassment when it happens. A mere 4% reported that it encouraged them to speak up against or intervene when witnessing it.
Workplace education around this issue is mandatory. But if most existing programs aren’t working, there needs to be stronger support for proactive, culture-building, and affirming programming that addresses and prevents sexual harassment from happening.
A better way to talk about sexual harassment.
Using strategies in behavioural sciences-based marketing and adult online learning, AASAS developed an innovative awareness campaign and an education program: #momentsmatter and Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment training.
Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment isn’t your average anti-harassment education program. By going beyond the 3P approach, this innovative online workshop does more than talk at people. It creates a safer space that utilizes empathy and best practices for teaching and learning, free of judgment or blame, that empowers attendees to act. It gives people the tools to confidently apply their learning – and stop and prevent workplace sexual harassment.
The Engagement Strategies curriculum accomplishes these outcomes through:
- Identification with the material, generating interest in learning
- Providing relevant information, generating a sense of knowledge
- Creating opportunities to apply the learning, generating a sense of capacity
When it comes to sexual harassment, it is common for people to see themselves outside of the problem until they are impacted. Through empathy exercises and perspective-taking, participants have the opportunity to see how this issue affects all of us, both indirectly and directly.
Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment looks at how to respond to sexual harassment from the following perspectives:
- as a bystander (someone who witnesses it),
- as a trusted person (someone responding to a disclosure),
- as a leader, and
- as someone who has been told they have done it.
Building upon a discussion of the socioeconomic impacts of workplace sexual harassment, this education program offers people accessible strategies. These strategies are impactful communication tools that empower people to safely and successfully provide support, intervene, and/or seek help.
By connecting with people’s compassion, we are able to create healthier, safer, and more productive workplaces free of sexual harassment.
Workplace culture as a prevention tool.
Workplace sexual harassment begins and ends with culture. If there is a culture of awareness, respect, and empathy, then sexual harassment is less likely to happen. If it does happen, it’s far easier to spot, call out, and de-escalate.
Ready to join the movement to end workplace sexual harassment?
Creating and maintaining workplaces free of sexual harassment is within reach, and everyone has a part to play.
Learn more at momentsmatter.info
Register for an upcoming session of Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment: momentsmatter.info/training
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DISCLAIMER The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.