Ensuring Cultural Change in America’s Workplace

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Could the culture of the American workplace be changing at last? In an article by the Editorial Board of the New York Times, a path is illuminated to help make sure it does.

It is important to understand that the issue of harassment goes well beyond sexual assault. The points being made in the article are dead on, i.e. the complicity of bystanders and the need for cultural transformations. For those who want to make a real difference, my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, provides advice to the bystanders on how to become witnesses, defenders, protectors and activists.

Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Elise Veebeck, in a Washington Post column, reveal how sexual-harassment victims in Congress can feel pressured because of loyalty and a confusing reporting process. It is disgraceful that Congress resists anti-harassment training, a process every other department of the government requires. Given that the seat of real power rests with those in office, this training, or lack thereof, should be revisited.

It is important to note from a practical perspective that following up on any infractions is crucial to successful cultural transformation. In my experience, at the whiff of any inappropriate behaviour, I speak directly with the person involved about what I heard, without any accusation. However, when they invariably try to argue, I cut the challenge off by saying something like, “Please don’t deny what I am hearing - and if you are doing anything that could be causing the noise - stop.” In over 99% of the cases I have dealt with this way, the noise and what caused the noise stopped - always satisfying those who were targeted.

These action steps are very likely the only ways that inclusivity and diversity can replace the current culture of bullying and harassment that dominate most companies and organizations in North America today.

Photo credit: Wikimedia