The road to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace must begin with the recruiting process.
Leaders and employers need to give equal weight to a new staff member's role in the culture of their organisation, rather than focusing exclusively on skillset and resume.
Workplace policies and training are all good and well, but they're clearly not fixing the problem, as demonstrated by the spate of sexual harassment stories in the media recently.
That means we need to catch the problem earlier and eliminate hiring toxic staff members in the first place.
By demonstrating that there's a higher standard for being a sought-after employee and by extension a higher standard for being a member of the community.
Here are four ways workplaces should change the way they hire employees to determine a better cultural fit:
Conduct risk assessments on potential recruits: Workplaces should go as far as conducting a risk assessment of recruits to gauge a better understanding of how they will behave and respond in their new work environment. Social media screening, interviews with referees, including past employers, as well as an in depth interview with the candidate is more effective at uncovering defaults in a personality and provide a better picture of the potential new employee.
Better education and training of recruitment staff: The recruitment team must have a clear and shared understanding on what sexual harassment is. Clear rules will eliminate a lack of understanding. Everyone in the workplace needs to understand the types of behaviours that are unacceptable, and that begins at recruitment.
More investigative recruitment techniques: Workplaces need to conduct more practical assessments of how a new recruit performs in a work environment, thus uncovering more of their personality, values and standards for personal behaviour.
Culture check: Organisational culture is central to harassment. Just as any business would review its operational and financial success, so should it assess its success in creating a productive, ethical culture - enabling the recruitment team to fit within it.
Aside from the obvious other drawbacks, employing staff members with questionable behaviour can be very costly.
Sexual harassment is often about power and entitlement, and workplaces need to get better at identifying personality traits that may contribute.
Identifying high-risk staff will go some way towards weeding out bad hires.
Sexual harassment is a social problem that has become a work problem and changing the culture of sexual harassment must start long before a person enters the workforce.
Maureen Kyne is principal of Maureen Kyne & Associates and is a workplace bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination specialist.
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