Harassment of any kind, especially sexual harassment, certainly is a sensitive subject but one that ABC feels is important to discuss. As the credentialing body for many O,P&P professionals and practices, we are committed to establishing and advocating for the highest patient care and organizational standards in O,P&P. As a leader in the profession, we also have the unique opportunity to help promote an anti-harassment culture. We hope you will join us in learning more through our two-part article series and harassment focused podcast.
Harassment in the Workplace Series: Part 1 – Fostering Harassment-Free Facilities
While we generally think of harassment as being an issue between two people, there is more to it than that. According to Jackson Katz, PhD, a leading activist, scholar and educator on issues of gender, race and violence, harassment and abuse are not only about the victim and the harasser, but also about everyone else – the bystanders. He defines bystanders as “anyone who plays some role in an act of harassment, abuse or violence -- but is neither the perpetrator nor the victim. They are someone who is present and thus, potentially in the position to discourage, prevent or interrupt an incident.” Katz suggests that positive cultural changes will only begin to take hold when leaders among these bystander groups speak up, challenge and create an environment where harassing behaviors are clearly seen as unacceptable.
So, what role do employers, managers and other authority figures at O,P&P facilities play in preventing harassment and contributing to the culture change? Dr. Katz suggests it starts with leaders. Since a culture change isn’t likely to occur overnight, it’s also important to focus on ways to prevent harassment now. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), prevention is the best defense against harassment in the workplace. The EEOC suggests taking the following steps:
Carmen Feinberg, an experienced Human Resources executive-level consultant, takes these steps even further in her article Employers' Cliffs Notes For Creating Sexual Harassment Policies In A #MeToo World. Feinberg provides specific suggestions about employee training such as explaining zero tolerance harassment policy and procedures during new employee onboarding, using various methods of communicating harassment policies, providing specific civility and bystander intervention training, training employees and supervisors separately and conducting formal training at least twice annually for managers and supervisors.
Whether you look at harassment from a legal or ethical viewpoint, having a clear anti-harassment policy and environment in place protects everyone involved and makes good business sense. Harassment isn’t a new issue by any means, but it has certainly been brought to the forefront in recent years and it is up to everyone – leaders and bystanders alike – to prevent harassment and help shift the culture.