Screw “See Something, Say Something” policies

This is a bit of a rant. After reading another highly rated risk management blog, I have hit my limit of sheepish recommendations on how to solve sexual harassment in the workplace. “See something, say something” (4s) is another one of those B.S. FEEL-GOOD organizational, look-at-how-great-we-are recommendations that leave everyone abused and harassed.

In sexual harassment, the basis of 4S is that employees and citizens will report bad behaviors.  Not to the harasser, but to management.  GREAT, but now what?

4S dances around the light pole better than Fred Astaire.  It doesn’t solve a problem.  It creates a bigger problem because very few people see the ramifications of the harasser’s actions.  What they do see is that they harassed someone and got away with it.  4s is a sneaker attack.  An under the radar attack.  The person see’s something and then secretly says something to someone or some process that never makes it public.  It’s hidden.

The person who reports the behavior typically never knows what happened.  The rest of the employees may not even know it was reported and certainly how it was handled.  So everyone loses or worse yet, thinks that the organization did nothing at all.

See Something DO Something

What it should be is See Something DO Something.  To end sexual harassment, you have to castrate it.  You have to eradicate it.  You must take action.  That means you MUST to empower your employees to ACTION.  Check out our Operation Right Hook.

Doing something is the right way to face sexual harassment.  I know we are supposed to be in a workplace, be professional and polite.  That’s right we are.  And sexual harassment, using one’s power to get a piece of action is none of those things.  So you must meet this level of disrespect and unprofessionalism with the same level of force.  You must act against it.  And you need to do it right then and there.

Let’s take the same scenario.  Jamie see’s Tiffany being harassed by her boss.  Instead of reporting it to HR, Jamie takes action right there.  She walks up to her boss and tells him to knock off his sexual harassment.  “Stop sexually harassing Tiffany.”  Now the boss has two options, stop harassing Tiffany or continue and retaliate against Jamie.

What do you think is more powerful?  Do you believe that Tiffany and Jamie will become better work mates after that bonding experience?  Do you think other employees will be empowered by Jamie’s ACTION?  Do you think the boss will want to fight for his borderline criminal actions when a witness was present?

A second benefit

It’s the ultimate chess move.  DOING just provided a shield for Jamie and Tiffany also.  If she is retaliated against by her boss, she may have legal whistle blower remedies for reporting to management the harassment.  And we know that retaliation claims are far more effective at obtaining remedies than sexual harassment claims.

You have to do more than say something

In addition, you have to give your employees the training to recognize the signs and symptoms of harassment.  You have to have policies that empower them.  You have to investigate.  You have push hard and punish this type of behavior.  Otherwise, all is for not.

Why so serious?

I know you are thinking, “this guy doesn’t like the company.”  No, that is not it.  As the CEO of a company, I don’t want this stuff going on in my company.  As a father, I don’t ever want to see my daughter go thru this.  And as a man in a relationship, I don’t ever want my significant other to endure this type of behavior in the workplace.  And as a taxpayer, I think it is appalling that our public tax dollars are wasted on investigations and paying claims when we should be putting the money in education and other public services.


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