John Malloy owns exec search firm Sanford Rose Associates, but he once owned a manufacturing firm whose workers were mostly male. “It was very clear we could be
subject to issues if we didn’t have the
right policies in place,” he recalls. So he
and his sta; crafted a sexual harassment
policy after getting legal guidance and
then trained the entire company.
Within weeks, a female employee complained that a male co-worker had made
comments that were “a blend of obsceni-ties and sexual innuendo,” Malloy recalls.
“He said things you wouldn’t say to your
wife or mother.”
The guy refused to apologize. In fact,
he made similar comments the following
night. “He was great in terms of doing his
job. He was very well liked,” Malloy says.
Nevertheless, he was history. “We
NO PLACE FOR BAD ACTORS
followed the procedure. He was suspended
for a few days,” Malloy says. “He came
back and resumed the same behavior. So
we terminated him.”
The scandals that toppled high-
profile figures such as NBC’s Matt Lauer,
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein,
and even beloved NPR icon Garrison
Keillor have awakened enormous interest
in the harassment issue. And the #Me Too
movement has inspired thousands of
women to air their complaints. In an era
of heightened risk, learn how to protect
The wrong approach to sexual harassment can lead your company to lawsuits, or a visit from the feds. By Minda Zetlin
TIP SHEE T
Your entire company needs regular training.
“We recommend training
once a year,” says Jay
Starkman, founder and CEO
of Engage PEO, a professional employer organization.
“It should touch on exactly
what the company will do
once a complaint is made,
and what the ramifications
will be.” Live training is
better than online, and
the owner or CEO and other
executives should attend.
Their absence would
be noticed and could be
used as evidence of
Your harassment policy needs regular review.
If you don’t have a written
sexual harassment policy,
get one. Now. Already have
one? Make sure to review it
every three to five years so
it’s up to date and accurate,
says Nicole Sodoma,
managing principal of
Sodoma Law. For instance,
an older policy might
not mention social media,
or may have outdated
instructions on how victims
should report an incident.
Don’t insist that all complaints go through you.
Experts say harassment
victims should have
some choices about
whom they report their
stories to—the company
owner or CEO should be
just one option. “Ideally,
where the alleged abuser
and the victim are of the
opposite sex, you want a
female to interview the
accuser if she’s female,
and a male if he’s male,”
adds Russ Brinson,
attorney at Sodoma Law.