Editor’s Note: My thanks to Alicia Arenas for sharing with me the story that inspired this post.
A week or so ago, I published a post about anti-harassment training. If you haven’t taken a look at the comments, there were some interesting responses about the overall value of anti-harassment training. I wasn’t planning to write a follow-up but then Alicia sent me a link to a news story.
Since the Miami Heat aren’t in the NBA playoffs, I was totally oblivious to the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are playing the Dallas Mavericks. One night after a San Antonio win, sportscaster Mike Bacsik, makes an inappropriate remark on Twitter. It gets picked up by Peter Burns, a San Antonio sports-talk radio host. Bacsik gets suspended. CNN gets wind of the story. Bacsik gets fired.
The story reminded me of a situation I encountered in Corporate America. Got up one morning, futzing around the house, drinking my coffee, reading the newspaper (people did that back then)…when I read a story about alleged inappropriate conduct by one of my employees. Yep, one of my employees. In the newspaper.
Needless to say, my morning routine was cut a bit short. I flew into the office, met with the employee’s supervisor and eventually with the employee (who, long story short, resigned.)
That incident from several years ago made me realize a few things about anti-harassment training and investigations. For instance:
Conducting anti-harassment training gives the company a chance to say, “You are accountable for your own stupid behavior.” And companies need to make that statement.
Even if you are a superstar, rockstar, HiPo, whatever…if you make racially inappropriate comments or say sexually inappropriate remarks, you will pay the consequences. Most of the time it involves cleaning out your desk.
In today’s cyber-news world, you can’t outrun the media. Just can’t. If one of your employees makes the front page, you better have a plan in place to deal with it. Don’t make the assumption it can’t happen to you.
Now you might be saying to yourself – hey, it’s 2010 – don’t people know by now that discrimination and harassment are wrong?! Isn’t this common sense? Why do we need to spend time and money on training?
Good question. I ask myself that question too. Then, friends send me links to news stories involving people like Mike Bacsik. Or New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.
And, I read about the legislation that Arizona just passed along with the list of states calling for boycotts.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done.0
Lorne Pike says
Another good post, Sharlyn. You’re quite right that training is needed even on obvious or “common sense” matters. It’s surprising how many people have different views on what is or isn’t common sense. The unemployment line is littered with people who had and then lost it all due to some words or actions that they probably never even thought about at the time. Hmmm, maybe if we called it “reinforcement” or “setting a standard” rather than “training”?
Sharlyn Lauby says
Thanks for the comment Lorne. I totally agree – what might be common sense to one person isn’t to someone else. It’s important to set expectations.
Changing the name of “training” is intriguing … I wonder if the word conjures up bad vibes. I’m going to have to noodle that one.