Sexual Harassment Part 3. What IS being done? The Final Part in the Series by Intercultural Mediator – Susanne Schuler

What IS being done?

In Part 1 we looked at the cultural origins of harassment. In Part 2 we expanded on what actually happens. Now, in this concluding piece, we highlight what actions are needed to diminish the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Let’s train everybody to be aware…

As a broad corporate response to the emerging crisis (Pandora’s box is now open), a wave of group Sexual Harassment Awareness Training Courses are being spashed over executives. And it is all coming in a rush. Centred on behavioural awareness and compliance (no, the other compliance) they have a very specific tone. Often with stern warnings and containing horrible scenarios, the message is one of shame and blame directed at the vile nature of some male behaviour.

Businessman portrait

But, this rapidly deployed and reactive intervention could prove to be counter-productive.

According to some research, there is a downside to this style of teaching approach. Short, high-pressure, punitive harassment awareness courses, that focus on blame and promise punishment, may actually be delaying the desired change in male behaviour in the workplace. A side effect of the powerful content contained in these courses is construed as a general accusation making all men automatically wrong and covering all male executives with a blanket of condemnation. This, in turn, can contribute negatively to the goal, hindering some men to acknowledge the potential for danger. The confrontational nature of the material shifts them from free dialogue into a defensive and avoidant position, where some begin to justify their actions or chose instead to hide in deep denial.

When a corporate sheep-dip course is rolled out rapidly as a reactive tactic by male management, probably in response to a sexual harassment incident within the company, possibly involving one of their own, an instant cure is not always forthcoming.

Unwanted side effects include seeing men taking refuge in polarity, the strengthening of male in-groups for mutual protection and a general disengagement from the subject, and, thus making resolution less likely to occur. When this approach is taken, especially in competitive and sales driven organisations, where the male hero stereotype has been promoted for years as the company ideal, the company finds that their promoted culture of, “hunt like a predator” cannot be switched off so easily or so quickly.

Maybe you can’t sheep dip a wolf.

So, compliance courses, rushed out to all employees in order to kill off the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace are not proving a panacea.

Maybe we need to go deeper in our study of the abuse of power by men and look to see how women get caught up in this dynamic.

For women, the current rebalancing of #metoo and #timesup is creating a safe space, beyond shame and silence, for those at the receiving end of abuse, sexual harassment and discrimination. This movement has peer support, allowing the sharing of stories with less judgement and is, at last, letting light shine in upon decades of secrecy, silence and fearful darkness.

It has taken action by women for women bypassing the boardroom, to get proportionate airtime, begin the debate and change the ground rules for both men and women in the workplace.

What now?

Will the repeated and amplified myth of man as a dominant, experienced, decisive, macho, courageous and an all-conquering hero, morph into something safer, more savoury and more appropriate for today’s business world?

Or, will the bastions of male power lash out, take revenge and reclaim their territory?

If the #metoo door is shut again, we can expect a panoply of abuse, a continuance of harassment in the absence of consequences for men and justice for women wronged at work, and, a strengthening of the ultra-male script – look out with dread for the return of the ravishing Viking.

Or, a better Hollywood script… Imagine the scene – On a wild and windy beach… there gather a critical mass of modern office workers, reborn and newly conscious – a promising new generation of aware workers committed to the creation of a healthier work dynamic that shows up in meritocratic reward whilst allowing for transparent flirting, healthy romance and witty in-group humour, and, killing off the exchange of job advantage for sexual favours.

And, when the #metoo wave peaks, then it will be time to advocate for a code of conduct that covers team buddy banter, in-house flirting, work romance and prescribes a moratorium on sexual trading, physical threat and the abuse of power in the work place.

Questions – Will we see a revoking of the free wheeling sex pest’s power pass in the workplace and the rise of self-policing and self-editing male work colleagues who are fluent in the modern work languages of respect, restraint and reasonable behaviour in the workplace?

Or, will the wave pass and the doors be locked again for another 20 years?

Only time will tell.

The new paradigm could be liberating for everybody.

About the Author – Susanne Schuler is an Intercultural Mediator at CEDR, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.

Catch up on the Series so far…

Part 2 What Do We See?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/sexual-harassment-what-do-we-see/

 

Part 1 Where did it come from?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/sexual-harassment-where-did-that-come-from-an-opinion-piece-by-susanne-schuler-part-1/

 

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Internship Opportunity – 3-month Full time CEDR Foundation internship to work on research projects on Diversity & Inclusion and consumer understanding of Fairness

CEDR – The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution Role.

SIETAR UK Friend CEDR – The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution is looking for a full-term intern for a Diversity and Inclusion Research project for 3 months in the period from mid-May to August 2018 and will pay up to £4,500 for five days a week of work.

The projects are the intern will be working on are:

  • A project looking at understanding the barriers to Diversity & Inclusion within the UK mediator profession (3 days per week);
  • A project looking at understanding how consumers perceive fairness and acceptance of decisions within alternative dispute resolution (2 days per week).

Who are CEDR?

Cedr Logo

The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) is an independent, non-profit organisation with a mission to cut the cost of conflict and create choice and capability in dispute prevention and resolution.

For over 25 years, CEDR have set the standard for dispute resolution and conflict management with our leading mediation, consultancy and training services:

CEDR Skills offers leading expertise in consultancy, training, and coaching to enhance skills and capability in negotiation and conflict management, including the leading internationally recognised Mediator Skills Training and Accreditation programme.

CEDR Dispute Resolution Services – Commercial, the largest independent alternative dispute resolution body in Europe.

CEDR Dispute Resolution Services – Consumer, provides adjudication for many thousands of consumer complaints each year.

Our Foundation undertakes innovation and research in the area of conflict, as part of our not-for-profit work.

CEDR employs around 60 people, and we also work with well over 100 self-employed mediators, trainers and consultants on a regular basis.

The Role

The intern will be working closely with the Diversity and Inclusion project team. The primary function of the intern will be to focus on a literature review of Diversity and Inclusion research within the legal and alternative dispute resolution fields with the aim of providing a report to inform the next stage of the project. This role includes a variety of tasks and duties including:

Data Analysis


*Desktop research

*Review of literature

*Review of other data sources, such as surveys etc.

Content Creation
 Producing of regular summaries of the research outcomes
Creation of a report on the research outcomes

Experience and skills required;

Interest in pursuing diversity with ideally previous experience in researching this area (eg. university dissertation/essay in area; or work report)

*Interest in in pursuing diversity with ideally previous experience in researching this area (e.g. university dissertation/essay in area; or work report)

*Strong expertise and skills in research methodology and report writing, including excellent use of English

*Impeccable organisational skills, including the ability to plan ahead and anticipate potential problems

*Ability to prioritise and adhere to deadlines and work under pressure

*IT literacy (Windows XP/Microsoft Office/database/E-mail)

*High level of accuracy and attention to detail

*Good communication skills and able to engage with different stakeholders on the project

Personal requirements

The successful candidate will be professional in attitude and appearance with excellent interpersonal skills. They must maintain strict confidentiality in performing their role since a large proportion of data is highly sensitive. It is also essential that they have the following:

*Capable of working using own initiative with minimal supervision, but also able to be an effective part of the team

*Flexible attitude to a workload that might change and develop

*Good time management

*Proactive approach to work

CEDR is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from all sections of society

Duration

Start: early May (as soon as possible)

Research phase completed by Mid August

Full time role.

For full details and instructions on how to apply click on the link;

https://www.cedr.com/docslib/CEDR_Foundation_internship_-_May-August_2018_.pdf

 

Intercultural Mediation at Work – Written by Susanne Schuler – Reviewed by Patrick Schmidt

Applicants need graciousness, benevolence and love  Mediation, as defined by Wikipedia, is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. A theoretical, dry … Continue reading

Trump – What Now? An Opinion Piece by Matthew Hill

Conflict Theory applied to the White House

Having returned from New York last week after the Inauguration and the Women’s Marches, I have digested some of the conversations we had over there and wanted to note a couple of observations from a cultural and conflict resolution point of view.

The White House, US president's residence, in Washington DC

It’s not him

The incongruence between DJT’s place in the White House and his level of communication (enthusiastic schoolboy) proves that he did not get there by merit of his ideas or solutions alone. Let us remember he is result of a large group of Americans who have lost a lot in reality and even more in their imagined mythical version of 1950’s America. Their frustration at the inability of any political party to do anything for them, to listen to them or to understand them is why they voted against politics and why we are here today.

Labels

The most frequent diagnosis of DJT I heard whilst in New York was “Psychopath”. A couple of Facebook posts have supplied compelling arguments for a label of Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Upgraded this week to Malignant Narcissist by one leading psychiatrist.

My issues with labels are that they excuse behaviours. They dissociate the conscious person and the decisions they make from accountability. To take the cultural community view of helping someone with difficulties is not a promising start for the next 4 years – as that person has the nuclear codes.

Macchiavelli

The author of the Prince – the ultimate cynical leader’s handbook would have advised sweeping away the old guard and launching a Blitzkrieg of radical policies that will have everyone reeling in their seats. Job done. The acting Attorney General is on her way and the Ambassadors around the world are packing up too and the intellectuals are failing to process the torrent of proposals leaving the White House.

Statue of Niccolo Macchiavelli in Florence

Niccolò Macchiavelli – The Cynic’s Guide to Leadership

Let us side step the shock and awe phase, get over our feelings of outrage and insult and attempt to be consequent.

Protest

Meeting and talking with the Marchers was the highlight of the trip – The atmosphere was one of an optimistic and loving community validating and celebrating the existence of a vast collection of people with healthy values and a positive spirit. Values based more on love and less on fear.

More on the problem with protest in a moment (1.7 million people in the UK signed a petition this week to reverse the Queen of England’s invitation to DJT for a State visit to the UK with golden carriages, full military honours and the rolling out of the great and the good of Blighty to put in a show for the new leader of the free world.)

Racism

DJT’s bizarre Black History Month breakfast was an historical denial on a grand scale as well as being a denial of DJT’s own baggage. His spinning of the contribution of African Americans – that their hard work laid down the foundations of modern America missed the point by many a mile. They were enslaved.

The point here is that there is no dialogue to be had. No numbers, facts, logic or reason will work against someone with zero interest in empowering the oppressed or curbing the dominance of the dominant. No argument will succeed. This is beyond debate, dialogue and exchange.

Conflict

From the perspective of Conflict Theory, we have moved passed dialogue and beyond cold conflict and are heading towards bipolar antipathy where exchanges are no longer listened to, reason has been thrown out of the window by both parties and negative emotions are triggered by simply seeing the other side or hearing their voice.

There is only one advantage to the HOT conflict phase – it gets dealt with – passive aggression can rumble on for years but when the furniture begins to fly then action is not far behind.

What is to be done?

Classical work on conflict suggests a starting point where energy is spent and attention is focused on the most leveraged areas where change is achievable and victories can be attained.

The post-election wounds are now healing and some brave commentators have uttered the bitter and necessary truth. The educated group who waged intellectual battle have missed the key point – it is not the content of the campaign, it is not the content of new policy – it is the cultural cause of our current situation that must be addressed.

We must give up the right to be right. We must come down from the hill of moral superiority – nothing will be heard from that altitude. It is about acting locally and moving beyond the facts (in Post-Truth America, facts are soooo last year.)

It is about new norms – America gets it political opinions from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Fox News. It is about creating stories, of creating characters with values that mean something. It is about starting an exciting narrative through the medium of drama / faction / story telling. That is the way, over time to tackle the fear that is driving the current political agenda and to move the majority toward a position of hope again.

Travel Ban

Shopping

A tragic example of this fear is the travel ban – with no statistics to back it up an overnight moratorium came in banning Muslims travelling to the US from the 7 Middle Eastern countries – The point is this – The move has the approval of the majority of Americans. They have swallowed it whole. They have heard the messages of fear and most currently choose to believe them. It is not true, but for them in this instance, action beats inaction – This myth provides a little comfort for them in dark times where their own personal reality seems so bleak and unending.

(The ban has been reversed by the courts and is being appealed now by DJT.)

Comment form Milton J. Bennett – Hello Mathew. Writing from the US, where I’ve been since Jan. 20., I’d like to comment on the purpose of the “psychopath” label regarding President Trump. People I have spoken with post shock are seriously considering two things: 1) how to keep the embers of a progressive agenda glowing during what will be a concerted move to the right (beyond the mandate of that slim electoral college win), and 2) how to mitigate the diplomatic credibility damage that is already being done by impetuous executive action. For instance, Khamanei has just said that Trump shows the “true face” of the US. The allegation of mental instability is an attempt to separate Trump from the US image. Some people I’ve talked to who supported Trump (either actively or by inaction), hoping that he would change or that that he would be restrained by “the system,” are now joining in the labeling. The move to the right will continue, but I guess there will be increasingly serious attempts to isolate or remove Trump

 

Culture, not just quotas, for better boardroom diversity An Opinion Piece by CEDR’s Kathryn Bradley

CEDR's Kathryn Bradley

CEDR’s Kathryn Bradley

According to the latest report published by the government this week, the gender ratio of FTSE 100 boards has reached a milestone, with 25% of board members now being women, an achievement credited to  the voluntary efforts made by such organisations to actively recruit board members to balance the gender gap. Whilst this number represents a significant increase over the last few years (from 12.5% in 2011), we shouldn’t be rushing to extol the virtues of gender quotas, tick the diversity box as a fait accompli and sit down to a celebratory cup of tea just yet.

Whilst Lord Davies’ report calls for an extension of these voluntary quotas, playing the numbers game can only hope to answer part of the problem. There seem to be two big issues that it is currently failing to address:

  1. The Cult of Board Culture– The latest US Republican debate provided a perfect example of what can happen when a homogenous (on the face of it at least) group of powerful men (and one woman) come together to argue their opinion and establish their superiority as potential future leaders of the free world. The irony of it was that the more they tried to compete for the airtime to demonstrate their leadership prowess, the more I feared that any of them would ever find themselves in the ultimate position of power. One of the most common complaints we hear from women in senior and executive leadership roles is not so much the homogeneity of gender but the absolute homogeneity of leadership, negotiating  and conflict styles that permeate the environment within the walls of the boardroom and govern the unspoken code of conduct at that most exclusive of tables. The all-powerful nature of such a culture means that many feel the need to ‘assimilate to survive’. This competitive, fist banging, who-can-shout-louder way of operating can mean some women find it very challenging to find an authentic way to integrate without losing themselves or their voice and we often hear of women who upon achieving the most senior positions come under fire for becoming too ‘Alpha’. I’ve even heard it said that this uncomfortable paradox is putting some women off aspiring to Board-level positions – a sad fact which no amount of quotas can fix! Many claim that more women on the board will be the automatic panacea to transform this culture into something much more inclusive and effective… I’m not so confident.
  2. Culture of Difference– It seems rightly uncontested that organisational diversity has a direct, transformative impact on the effectiveness and success of teams and leaders by encouraging and facilitating difference and embracing the creative conflict that this difference can generate resulting in the generation new ideas and the improvement of established ways of working. This is more than just a nice to have. Without this diversity we expose ourselves to homogenised ‘group think’ and significantly a higher risk of corporate scandal and even crime due to an inability of an organisation to effectively criticise, hold itself accountable or even see the issues as they arise. I wonder if the latest Volkswagen emissions scandal would have been allowed to happen if this culture of difference had existed amongst its senior leaders? Whilst it might have helped, I’m not sure a gender quota of 25% women would have been quite enough alone to prevent a global organisation turning a blind eye to its own decisions and actions. Gender is a crucial area to consider, but its only one aspect of human difference; an easy visible line to draw and make tangible through measurements and quotas. If we genuinely want to see organisational diversity that reflects the diversity of British society then we need to look beyond the obvious to embrace all aspects of difference, something which quotas are unlikely to achieve.

In summary, quotas are proving to be an important tool on the road to achieving organisational diversity but they are not the magic bullet people might be looking for or even the token activity they might be hoping to hide behind. If we want real, positive diversity in our executive teams, we also need to empower those in leadership roles at every level to embrace and encourage a culture of constructively challenging the norms, actively listening to those singing a different tune rather than shouting to be the loudest, and to shed the unshakeable habit of seeing conflict as something to be feared and avoided at all costs.

These are my thoughts…I’d love to hear yours.

Kathryn Bradley is a Programme and Project Manager at CEDR – the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. CEDR is the UK’s largest provider of mediation training and services. www.cedr.com

Brainstorming Discussion Assistance Advice Team Concept

Cultural Diversity at Work