It’s Time to Put Employees (Not Managers) at the Center of Your Harassment Prevention Strategy

It’s Time to Put Employees (Not Managers) at the Center of Your Harassment Prevention Strategy

The Facts

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In partnership with ThinkHR, Impactly recently conducted a national HR survey to measure the extent to which U.S. employers are adopting EEOC best practices to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

The survey was conducted in May of 2019, and was completed by over 1,200 HR and compliance professionals across the country.

The survey questions were based on the Checklist from the EEOC’s Study of Harassment in the Workplace. The two primary goals of the survey were to:

  • Assess to what extent employers across the industry are implementing harassment prevention best practices, and
  • Encourage adoption of best practices through a published study of the results.

A team of prevention, HR, employment law, and compliance experts came together to analyze the data, and coauthor the Study.

If you did not participate in the survey, and would like to compare your policies and practices against the national average, you can take the survey and we’ll generate a free custom benchmark report. Start survey.

The most significant finding from the 2019 Harassment Prevention Study was the dramatically low adoption of employee focused strategies in the prevention of harassment and discrimination. Notably, there were three areas in particular where employee (non-supervisor) prevention best practices are being overlooked:

  1. Only 18% of employers incorporate bystander intervention training as a method to empower employees to intervene when witnessing potentially harassing or discriminatory behavior;
  2. Only 13% of employers implement climate surveys to measure the extent to which harassment is a problem within their organization; and
  3. Only 3% of employers report having adopted anonymous, third party reporting tools to encourage the reporting of potentially harassing or discriminatory behavior, witnessed or experienced.

These low adoption rates, while disappointing, were not entirely unexpected. Compliance mandates, more than EEOC best practices, have shaped the national approach to harassment prevention for almost two decades.

Previous anti-harassment legislation in California, Connecticut, and Maine were focused on educating supervisors and managers on how to address, and report harassment and discrimination in the workplace -- rather than on a comprehensive employee-focused strategy, as recommended by the EEOC. So the resulting survey data indicating low adoption of bystander intervention training and climate surveys, in particular, are consistent with the historical focus on managers and supervisors as the primary channel to address harassment and discrimination.

But we expect this trend to change over the next couple of years, as new and pending legislation is taking an employee-first approach to harassment prevention. A full summary of new anti-harassment legislation is here. For example, under the new Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, employers are required to train all employees annually -- and the training must include bystander intervention. Meanwhile, in Vermont, annual climate surveys are now used as an enforcement method by the state Attorney General.

For the complete analysis of the survey results, download your free copy of the 2019 Harassment Prevention Study >>

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