The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has launched new training this month aimed at helping employers to create a respectful workplace environment.
The Society for Human Resource Management reports that two new harassment prevention programs, “Leading for Respect” for supervisors and “Respect in the Workplace” for employees, highlight civility, acceptable workplace conduct and behaviors that contribute to an inclusive workplace. The supervisor training is four hours, and employee training is three hours.
An EEOC report indicates that nearly a third of approximately 90,000 charges received by the EEOC in fiscal year 2015 alone included an allegation of workplace harassment. Charges spanned the categories of gender, race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, color and religion, breaking down as follows: 45 percent alleging sexual harassment; 34 percent racial harassment; 19 percent disability; 15 percent age; 13 percent national origin; and 5 percent religion.
And not only are workplace harassment charges expensive to the business in which they occur—in 2016, the EEOC recovered $164.5 million for workers alleging harassment—it also contributes to decreased productivity and increased turnover.
The new training differs from traditional compliance training that’s focused more on liability and legal definitions, which has been shown to be ineffective because it can come across as too abstract, boring and not relevant to workers' experiences.
On the other hand, the new programs incorporate the EEOC report’s recommendations on compliance, workplace civility and bystander intervention training and are designed “to stop improper behavior before it ever rises to the level of illegal harassment,” according to Chai Feldblum, commissioner of the EEOC.
In a statement, Feldblum says, “We know that workplace incivility often acts as a ‘gateway drug’ to workplace harassment. These trainings, therefore, provide employees with the specific skills they need to act respectfully and to intervene when they observe disrespectful or abusive behavior.”
The report adds that private employers and state and government agencies can find more information on the training program on the EEOC Training Institute website, by contacting the nearest Outreach and Education Coordinator or by contacting program analyst Michelle Crew at firstname.lastname@example.org. There also is a Q&A available online for employers.