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Beyond Checking the Box: Sexual Harassment Training That Works

Sexual Harassment Webinar Recap
Written by Tina Nguyen

Sexual Harassment prevention training has been widespread since the 1980s. But the rates of sexual harassment complaints have not gone down in the decades since. While many companies have some sort of sexual harassment prevention training and policy, that statement is quite dismal.

“I’ve been in L&D for a long time and I’ve seen sexual harassment prevention training done very poorly, very neutrally, but in general, I’ve seen it emphasized solely as, ‘did we get all the signatures on the paper’,” said Summer Salomonsen, Grovo’s Chief Learning Officer.

For decades, sexual harassment prevention training was treated as a check-the-box task for companies with little to no thought beyond that.

That’s why in June of this year, we launched a refreshed version of our sexual harassment prevention training that applies everything we know about powerful, virtual content creation and created truly impactful training. In short, if you’re looking for cheesy videos and corny scenarios, you won’t find them here.

Earlier this week, Grovo’s Director of Content Strategy, John Marshall led an informative webinar discussion with the two individuals who were instrumental in creating our refreshed training: Summer Salomonsen and Content Producer Joe Stanton.

Rip and Replace Approach

“Over the course of my career, it became evident that we never really applied our best instructional design sense to sexual harassment prevention training. For decades, we’ve gone about it in the same way, we’ve been doing the same poor training—hoping that somehow—it’s going to elicit a change,” said Summer.

Grovo’s training is different. In Summer’s words, our brand of sexual harassment prevention training takes a “rip and replace approach.” Alongside meeting compliance requirements, our training targets root causes and behaviors to catalyze meaningful change by prioritizing for themes:

Bystander Intervention
Promoting a bystander intervention approach means equipping employees with specific strategies for speaking up and intervening when they see harassment or something inappropriate.

Unconscious Bias
Sexual harassment is discrimination. It’s about power, not about sexual desire. By including unconscious bias into our content it forces learners to examine their biases and understand their quick assumptions about harassment.

“To really fix sexual harassment, we need a systemic change and that means changing everyone. So that means no one automatically thinks ‘oh she led him on’ when they hear about an incident—that’s a quick snap judgement that often comes from unconscious bias,” said Joe.

Building Inclusive Teams
Small exclusions are another form of discrimination that can ladder up and be symptoms of larger issues. Our content aims to help build inclusive teams where companies work toward identifying exclusionary practices and eliminating them from their workplace.

“As a leader, I’m so often prepared to deal with the big problems—the big exclusions—but when brought out case after case again throughout the content—these small exclusions are what fractures teams. And for me, that means we lose productivity, we lose ability to be successful as a company,” said Summer.

Empowering Employees
Much like bystander intervention, our content aims to empower employees by creating a “speak up” culture where they have the freedom and tools to say that they’re not comfortable with small or big exclusions.

“Our job in the learning role is about helping people make good decisions in the moment. How many companies wish they could have empowered their employees before news hit the streets on workplace harassment?” asked Summer.

Questions from the Webinar

If I have employees in both California and New York, should I train them in their own individual state requirements or will one training suffice?
On Grovo, we’ve built specific prebuilt campaigns that align with the needs of each state. We encourage you to cross-reference them because there are useful lessons in California that you can use in New York and vice versa. For example, all the California training will include the LGBTQ inclusion and use of conduct, and New York’s will focus on things like retaliation and bystander intervention.

Should a company do two different trainings—one for employees and one for managers?
Employees should take the training for employees and we recommend that managers take the training for both managers and employees. Managers are individuals too, they also have peers and will need to learn the skills offered in our employee training track.

Want more information?

This was only a snippet of what we covered during our webinar. For a full recording of our insights, a breakdown of how our content was designed, and implementation best practices, watch our on-demand webinar Beyond Checking the Box: Sexual Harassment Training That Works.