Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Staffing Industry: A different training paradigm

When it comes to sexual harassment, the lack of confidence plays a huge role, and may even be a root cause as to why sexual harassment has become so wide-spread. Over time, with age and experience, confidence building and life lessons, we begin to be able to stand up for what we want and don’t want, believe in and don’t believe in, and most important, being able to choose what’s appropriate for us.

This is why Confidence360 has been developed: to significantly change the types of trainings out there from the impractical and check-box exercises to ones in which participants experience all sides of the equation. I believe we must accomplish the latter if we are going to fully understand the impact/decision-making process, or lack thereof.

The Confidence360 program is designed to be relevant, three-dimensional, and actionable. There is a simple formula we are all taught as children. Where there is smoke, there is fire. And when you come in contact with fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL. With harassment, it’s:

  • Stop harassment before it starts.
  • Address harassment head on.
  • Get help fast when it’s at the line.

There are endless shades of grey in which harassment occurs. Who started it? Who fed into it? Who exacerbated it? Who ended it? This is why the training and code of conduct need to be detailed, specific, all-encompassing, and black and white to be completely zero tolerance. Equip people with enough confidence and tools to make it as simple as possible. Empower people by ensuring they feel supported and strong enough to say STOP or NO. Because in any context, Stop is Stop and No is No. That’s the black and white.

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People get stuck with how to say stop and no, knowing where the line is, and knowing when it gets crossed. But that is wildly subjective because everybody has a different line — which is why the rules have to be clear, concise and loop-hole free. To illustrate, I have listed a couple of examples that may or may not be sexual harassment. Read them and see how you feel:

  • In an email: “Hi Gorgeous! Can’t wait to see you at the upcoming industry event. You’re my favorite person at your company 😉”
  • Before a Skype Call: “Can’t wait to see your beautiful face on our monthly update call.”
  • Phone Call: “Hey, I’m coming to town to visit one of my offices. Can I take you to a Michelin Star Restaurant?”
  • In the sponsor area of an industry event: After many meet-and-greets and hugs at the tradeshow booth, a room key is offered during a hug.

Whether or not you considered the any of the above as examples of misconduct or sexual harassment, the minute one person in the interaction — even in a professional or selling environment, even if you think that you have to do whatever you need to do to get the business — the second it gets uncomfortable, it has to stop. So equip yourself and those you manage with the confidence to stand up for themselves and others. Stop is stop. No is no. No matter what seat you occupy, the context, or the event you are attending.

Let’s make this emotional, complicated and potentially damaging to individuals and companies situation as clear as the way we conduct our EEOC trainings and methods. For those, from day one, recruiters are taught how to say no to discrimination. They have and know how to complete a company statement that starts with, “We will find the best-qualified candidate regardless of …” They don’t need to think or discern what to say or do when a client asks them to discriminate … even if they don’t “intend” for you to discriminate. The answer is NO and your staff has a script to deal with it.

Let’s get there as an industry when it comes to enabling our staff to deal with sexual misconduct situations as well! Join me.

MORE: Sexual Harassment in Staffing: The problem

MORE: Sexual Harassment in Staffing: The failure of anti-harassment training

Dana Look-Arimoto

Dana Look-Arimoto
Dana Look-Arimoto, founder and CEO of Phoenix5 LLC, is an executive and leadership team coach, Talent Eco advisor, speaker and author of Stop Settling, Settle Smart: Rethinking Work-life Balance, Redesign Your Busy Life. She can be reached at dana (at) phoenix5th (dot) com.

Dana Look-Arimoto

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