Preventing Sexual Harassment


The Need

We get an urgent call from an HR director: some high performing professionals – in a high stress medical environment – are being accused of “insensitive, sexist behavior.” Their words and actions are creating a drift towards a “toxic work environment” that puts the company in legal jeopardy. Off the shelf training isn’t the answer. The CEO tells us: “You need to hit this nail on the head. We need change now.”

  • Get the offenders to stop the harassing behaviors

  • Help retain talented employees who may leave because of harassment

  • Make clear the risks of legal and financial consequences

  • Empower staff with an ongoing information resource

Our Solution

Collaborating with the company’s committed CFO, and calling upon our team’s legal experience, we designed and delivered intensive half-day workshops that focused on defining offensive behavior and language; depicting the impacts on team members; and creating an action plan for maintaining a respectful workplace. Guided Improv™ scenarios brought the issues to life, and participants who anticipated a “boring lecture” remained fully engaged.

The high point of the workshop was a courtroom scene, in which a defendant accused of harassing behavior, is grilled by an attorney. The defendant’s discomfort made a big impression on participants. One person objected that the scene was “probably exaggerated to scare us.” He had a lightbulb moment when he learned that the script was based on actual courtroom transcripts, and that the award in the case was $168 million – the largest sexual harassment award in US history.

  • Needs assessment meetings with managers and staff

  • Half-day mandatory workshops at all company locations

  • Interactive Guided Improv™ scenarios on dealing with unacceptable behavior

  • Facilitated discussions on negative impacts on staff and the company

  • Strengths-based planning for maintaining a respectful workplace

  • Custom online video on HR policies and addressing inappropriate behavior

The Outcome

The training had a powerful impact on management and staff, and provided a strong starting point for re-setting the workplace culture. Harassing behaviors were dramatically reduced, and team members report that they have made good use of the communications tools they learned.  The custom video we produced highlights the company’s values and harassment policies for on-boarding new employees; it also provides an ongoing, periodically updated resource that keeps the learning alive.

Ready to Talk?