We here at Hard Hat Training are disheartened to be addressing the issue of sexual harassment in our blog again. As the accusations continue to roll in, well-known politicians and celebrities are exposed for their illegal and immoral behaviors. From harassment to quid pro quo, to outright sexual assault, we have all been subjected to tales of nightmarish work conditions the past few months. While we (obviously) value training, we recognize that sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and even violence in the workplace will not significantly decrease until everyone strives to change workplace culture. Without a good workplace culture, no amount of training will have a lasting impact on these issues.
What is Workplace Culture?
Workplace culture is set by the values of an organization. These values should put a premium on diversity, fairness, respect, and inclusion. A healthy culture illustrates that all employees deserve to be respected, regardless of gender, race, nationality, sexuality, or religion. Today’s workplace is increasingly diverse, and welcoming that diversity should be a mindset that is constantly cultivated and reinforced, from the CEO down to the janitor–everyone should be promoting inclusion and respect, every day. Furthermore, everyone–from the CEO down to the janitor–should be treated with respect, every day.
Supervisors and managers are especially important to workplace culture. They are the eyes and ears on the floor and should keep close tabs on conversations and behaviors that could damage the culture. Employees look to supervisors and managers to communicate respect and inclusion in their day-to-day behavior; their attitude, conversations, and behaviors can shape the workplace culture into a positive, safe environment for everyone.
What are some ways a supervisor or manager can be a good example for those they work with? Here are a few ideas:
Be aware of any unconscious biases you might be bringing to your workplace. These can influence how you interpret and respond to situations, which in turn, impacts your decisions. Cultivate inclusive language and behaviors in your daily interactions.
Employees will recognize when you’re not leading by example. This will foster mistrust, which will affect morale and productivity. If employees don’t feel you are truly concerned with their safety and well-being, they will hesitate to report harassment. Be approachable, admit your shortcomings, and strive to improve when necessary. Your employees will see you as a better leader and follow your example if you do so.
Be accountable for the culture in your workplace. Consciously recognize inclusion and respect as key components of business decisions. Demonstrate your commitment to addressing underlying factors that may damage the culture in your workplace. When you take accountability, you employees will align their attitudes and behaviors accordingly.