When you’re looking for sexual harassment training in Vancouver, you want to consider first if training is actually needed. Funny, coming from a guy who delivers sexual harassment training in Vancouver, but there are a number of times I tell clients that for their problem, group training is not the answer.
Let’s say you have one fellow who’s causing problems, by telling inappropriate sexual jokes. Do you really need to put him through sexual harassment group training? And does everyone else have to sit through mandatory sexual harassment training, when it’s really just the fault of one guy? Many times the answer is “no.”
What you need to do is sit down with this employee and tell him what’s appropriate, what’s not, how this violates or goes against your sexual harassment policy or respectful workplace policy, and how you expect him to change his ways. At this point you should make it clear that if he changes his ways, you have no more problems. However, if he doesn’t, or falls back to old habits, then there will be consequences. And be sure to spell out exactly what those consequences will be. No need for group sexual harassment training here.
However, there are plenty of times where training may be required and in fact could save you all kinds of future problems and money. Supervisors and managers often think employees are the ones who need the sexual harassment or respectful workplace training, and they might be right. But it shouldn’t stop there. Supervisors and managers need to know all the information employees know, and a bit more.
Knowledge is a powerful thing and the more people know about their rights and responsibilities regarding issues of harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination, the better off they’ll be.
When do you need sexual harassment training?
If you have knowledgeable in-house trainers, or if you want an expert from outside, you want to cover information that will effect real change – not just checking a course off your list of things to do. Any training must be:
When you want everyone to be on-side for a respectful environment
When you’re introducing a new policy or re-introducing an updated policy
When you have a number of new hires – to ensure everyone understands your corporate culture and expectations
When you’ve heard sufficient comments that you think enough people need to hear a clear message of what is respectful and what is sexual harassment
- Relevant. It has to speak to your workplace and your issues.
- Realistic. Don’t get out the text book stuff and pretend everything runs like a case-study. It doesn’t and when someone brings up problems, you better be ready to discuss them.
- Interactive. If you’re not engaging them, you’re wasting everyone’s time.
- Fun and entertaining. Who said sexual harassment training has to be a big bore? Ok, many are, but that’s not the kind you want to deliver.
The following outline can be used to train employees and anyone who supervises or manages your employees. Believe it or not, 3 to 3.5 hours is often plenty of time.
l. Examples of harassment
Don’t start out with your boring text-book definition of harassment and discrimination. Sure you want to cover these things, but people can learn from interesting cases and examples. Don’t think of it as benefiting from the misery of others, but instead, learning from their mistakes. And just because you’re in Vancouver, or the Lower Mainland, don’t feel you have to limit your cases to those just in Vancouver or B.C.
II. Definition of harassment & your policy
Somewhere in the process, you do want to cover the real and legal definition of sexual harassment, and any other forms of harassment as found in your policy. If you go line by line, you’ll be doing everyone a favour by helping them catch up on their sleep. Give them the simple facts and let them know where to go for help if they need it – as defined by your policy.
III. What a respectful workplace looks like
This is where you discuss the specifics of your workplace and the unique issues and conversations that can take place where words are considered respectful or not. Keep in mind that while there is a certain amount of latitude for each workplace, the definitions and the expectations by the courts and tribunals tend to be the same. Meaning, everyone is protected by the same laws.
IV. The impact of mere words
Most harassment or issues of disrespect, come down to mere words. Let employees know that opinions, “truths”, generalizations, and all kinds of other words, might seem harmless, but depending on the context, can get people’s backs up and can land other people in hot water. If we just talk about policies and laws, without putting everything into meaningful context, then very little will sink in. People may not remember all the laws, but they’ll certainly remember how people feel when something goes wrong.
V. How to deal with harassment
This last part wraps everything up by giving employees the tools to deal with problems as they arise. Not every issue can be dealt with easily – and that’s when a supervisor, manager, or a human resources specialist can help.
So let employees know where they can go for assistance, but also give them the basics to speak up for themselves so they can try to resolve issues simply and easily. If done right, it will make people realize they can solve their own problems….but it will also let potential harassers know others will no longer put up with their crap.
Supervisor and Management Additions
In addition to the employee training noted above, here is additional information that can be delivered to any of your employees who supervise or manage others.
Lots of time people want the supervisors to have their training first. However, if you do the added supervisory part soon after the employee training, it can be just as effective. You do this by getting everyone in the room for the preliminary information, so that all employees at all levels are on the same page.
Then shortly afterwards you tell the supervisors the extra responsibilities they have. That can save you time and money by having everyone in the same room for the first part. However, if it’s a must to have the supervisors go first, then by all means, get them their training first and they will be ready if someone brings up issues right away.
Here’s the additional information for supervisors and managers:
VI. Supervisory Responsibilities
Supervisors need to know their additional legal responsibilities at work. Some may seem obvious, but in fact, most are a bit surprised as to what the law requires of them. Additional cases, involving managerial responsibility might open their eyes when they find out other managers got into trouble.
VII. Managing a Complaint
This last part for supervisors and managers gives them simple tools to deal with complaints as they see them, or as people bring them to their attention. Don’t go for an “investigation” course. Leave that to internal or external experts. Give them the confidence to know which of their responses the workplace will support and which you won’t support – then there are no surprises when she or he tries to resolve a situation.
Training is just one way to deal with sexual harassment and to ensure you have a respectful workplace. If done well, it can be very helpful and save you a lot of headaches and lawyer’s bills.
Do It Yourself
If you’ve got the right people, with the right knowledge for sexual harassment training and other forms of training, then you might still want resources to help you and your class. At Stephen Hammond’s Human Rights Training Store you’ll find:
Managing Human Rights at Work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters – in paper back, on-line pdf, and podcast. This book has sold more than 12,000 copies in Canada, with some people saying, “I had to force myself to put it down to go to sleep.”
PowerPoint Recordings – There are a wide-variety of recordings Stephen has created for your training sessions. They can be stand-alone for short sessions or parts of a longer training session with good bits of information. The Canadian court cases recordings are very valuable. All the research is done for you.
52 Tips for Supervisors and Managers – When the training is done and a week later, people are scratching their heads, wondering what they learned, these weekly tips, sent over a year, give great information and remind supervisors what they have to do.
Hire an Expert
If you would like to bring in an expert, see what Stephen has to offer for sexual harassment and other types of training, visit Stephen Hammond’s training page to see descriptions of these training workshops:
1. Managing Human Rights at Work
2. Leadership Skills to Prevent Harassment
3. The Respectful Workplace
Here’s one recent testimonial, yet feel free to read others:
"Stephen is one of the most engaging and natural speakers we have ever had speak to us. His enthusiasm for and knowledge of his subject matter made him interesting, but it was his humour and openness that drew the audience in. People felt free to express their opinions in a safe, non-judgmental environment."
Regional Manager, Team Leader
Department of Justice Canada