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Applying the Platinum Rule in your anti-harassment policies

April 10, 2018

By Lori Stewart, SPHR®, SHRM-SCP, HCS, Partner, Human Resources Consulting

Recently, I participated in the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce’s Security Summit anti-harassment panel. The summit was dedicated to educating local professionals on the critical factors in business and workplace protection.

As individuals shared their thoughts and expertise on this critical topic, I was once again reminded that the safety of our workforce should remain at the top of our priority list.

Not only must it remain at the top, but also our strategic plan(s) should include action items encompassing training, education, discussion groups, drills, cybersecurity awareness and mandates; as well as specific plans dedicated to maintaining a harassment-free environment and a physically safe work environment.

Let’s focus on the harassment-free environment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported the receipt of more than 26,000 harassment claims in fiscal year 2017.

The monetary payout to claimants was approximately $125 million. With the emergence of the #MeToo movement in October, it stands to reason these numbers will be on the rise as awareness of all types of harassment has elevated.

It is our responsibility, as employers, to ensure we’re taking all the necessary steps to provide our employees a safe and nonretaliatory process to report any and all types of harassment.

Each incident should be investigated with urgency and without bias. In a tight-knit community like ours, that can be difficult. However, that is why many employers turn to third-party professionals to assist with these matters.

Through the years, I’ve met many brave men and women who have taken a stand against the abuse of power and/or harassment of any type.

And, while the #MeToo movement has provided the opportunity for more individuals to have a voice, I’d like to recognize the many who have stepped forward before public awareness/social media helped encourage individuals to report. It’s never easy.

The EEOC states, “Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

Recently, I was attending a conference in another community and was involved in a small-group discussion.

During that discussion, a leader was adamant that the work environment was becoming difficult to manage and employees were too sensitive.

When asked about his core philosophy in interacting with others; he quoted the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you want them to do to you.” A beautiful and age-old quote; however, it infers that we are all the same when it comes to how we want to be treated.

For the business environment, try applying the Platinum Rule, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

Because communication is definitely a two-way street, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are not the only ones comfortable with our dialogue in the workplace.

What we might view as harmless, might be considered “offensive conduct” by the recipient and/or others.

As our world continues to wonderfully diversify, acceptance and tolerance of others’ varying perspectives is imperative to maintain a safe work environment for all of our valued employees. So be proactive and include a culture of anti-harassment in your strategic plan today.

This article was previously published in the Tri-State Business Times.

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