Inclusive Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
In the U.S., it’s widely understood that everyone should have an equal right to access to employment and advancement, regardless of factors like their age, race, sexual orientation, religion, or disability status. In fact, most employers pride themselves on the opportunities they provide for workers in protected classes and benefit from the contributions of those employees. However, creating an inclusive culture can be a complex undertaking that requires seeing ordinary work environments and activity through a new lens to ensure that all employees are given opportunities that are truly equivalent.
Take employees with disabilities—October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Advancing Access and Equity.” This annual public awareness campaign began in 1945, when Congress declared the first week of October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was dropped in 1962, to recognize that the range of possible disabilities included far more than those that could be easily seen.
Ultimately, the name was changed and the campaign expanded to a full month in 1987. The range of possible disabilities is broad, and the needs of employees who are impacted can vary widely. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for businesses to find that their efforts to provide an environment in which all workers can thrive don’t completely hit the mark. So it’s time to take a moment to reflect—does your sexual harassment prevention training truly reflect your organization’s commitment to access and equity?
Disability and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
One area of disability that has been the subject of growing awareness in recent years is neurodiversity. Conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other neurodevelopmental conditions don’t make it impossible for individuals to have rewarding careers, but they can require a different approach to let strengths come to the fore and mitigate weaknesses. These types of “invisible disabilities” have the high potential for misunderstanding in the workplace, especially for employees who have difficulty decoding social cues or who may interact differently than neurotypical individuals.
For example, studies have shown that autistic adults are at higher risk for experiencing sexual harassment than adults as a whole. It’s believed that their relative weakness in understanding nonverbal communication or the underlying meaning of indirect social cues makes them vulnerable. By the same token, they may be at risk of being misunderstood if their actions come across as unwanted attention, and they may not pick up on subtle hints to desist. As an employer, what do you do to make sure your employees have the information they need to distinguish what behavior is and is not appropriate, without assuming they should just “know” what’s expected?
Inclusion in sexual harassment prevention training needs to go beyond simply supplying materials or information in an accessible form such as visual guides for the hearing-impaired. You have to ask yourself—is this training designed to foster genuine understanding? Or is it just meant to check off a legal box?
At Bridge Training Consultants, we know that dry, uninformative sexual harassment prevention lectures may follow the letter of the law, but they’re a missed opportunity to foster understanding and create a culture of safety and respect. Our training is designed to connect with your employees by giving clear concrete examples of what is and is not okay, engaging them in discussion to ensure comprehension, and adding humor to keep them paying attention. Yes, we meet California’s strict legal requirements, but we do so much more. Meaning isn’t lost in a sea of confusing legalese, making it easier for your employees to apply what they learn in everyday situations. In addition, we provide training in English and Spanish so your entire workforce can be on the same page.
Preventing Harassment, Promoting Respect
Diverse workplaces are better for business, with improvements in creativity, productivity, profit, and retention—but creating a culture of inclusion doesn’t just happen automatically. Bridge Training Consultants can help you build an environment where all employees feel safe and valued through our effective sexual harassment prevention training program. To learn more, contact us here.