High Performing Business – Strategy – Respect
Muchelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT
High performing businesses create a culture of respect. The leader of every organization sets the tone for the level of respect in the organization by how they handle challenging issues – such as sexual harassment.
I move quickly on any allegations of sexual harassment in my own business (and yes there have been several). On my first job as one of the first morning newspaper girls in my town I got introduced to sexual harassment in the work place (I was 15). It took six months for people to believe me that one of my customers was flashing me every Saturday morning. A neighbor finally got a picture of him. He was arrested and pleaded guilty. But it took six months for this to happen and I was labeled a liar and a trouble maker even up to the time he was arrested. Dismissing an allegation of harassment harms everyone and creates a toxic work environment.
There are extensive laws employers must follow relating to sexual harassment in the work place. But even without these laws – every person deserves to feel safe (and respected) in your business, or on your project.
Here is how to create a safe and respectful environment for everyone:
- Listen to complaints and investigate discreetly, immediately. Never dismiss a complaint of harassment.
- When someone is sharing their experience, acknowledge it happened just as they shared. Protect their anonymity while you discreetly investigate.
- Remove the accused immediately from the situation while you investigate. Take these complaints seriously.
- Require every person in the organization to take a class on what is sexual harassment and how to prevent it – for even just one allegation. (it’s actually the law). Let it be known under no circumstances do you allow this type of behavior in your organization – think zero tolerance here.
- Involve your legal counsel immediately to protect everyone – the victim, the alleged perpetrator, and the business.
I got introduced to the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior very early in my professional careee in Air Force officer training The rule of thumb is how would it look if this appeared as a news headline? If it would bring shame on you or the organization you were serving – don’t do it.
Being an effective leader means bringing out the best of everyone – this can only happen in an environment with mutual respect as it’s foundation.