For their part, victims of sexual harassment may choose not to report incidents out of fear that speaking up will cost them their jobs (and income). They may think they won’t be believed, that their reports won’t be acted upon, or that they’ll be blamed for harassment. Perhaps the ultimate fear is that of retaliation by the harasser.
Fear can paralyze witnesses to sexual harassment, too. Again, concerns about retaliation may play a big role in keeping bystanders silent. Witnesses also may fail to act because they don’t see others speaking out, leaving them to fear that taking action is not an appropriate response in the context or culture of their organization.
2. Poor Organizational Policies
Because some states or other authorities choose to put responsibility for sexual harassment prevention policies in the hands of the very business organizations in which problems occur, formal and effective policies against harassment may be lacking. This can leave employees unsure about what constitutes sexual harassment and what to do about incidents when they occur. Ineffective policies also undercut victims’ abilities to take action and gain restitution.
3. Training Costs and Logistics
Faced with the prospect of lost work time and associated costs to productivity and bottom lines—coupled with additional expenses to build or buy training programs—company leaders may refuse to insist on quality sexual harassment prevention training for their workforces. The fallacy in that failure to act is that organizations may then be put at risk for millions of dollars in fines and legal judgments because of harassment-provoked litigation.
4. Prevention Training Fails to Drive Behavior Change
Whether content of sexual harassment prevention training programs fails to engage audiences, or doesn’t present material that is relevant or practical to apply, many learning and development professionals agree that prevention education has fallen short in positively shifting employee behaviors. Even professionals who express satisfaction with training products often report poor results because training isn’t followed-up and reinforced systematically.
5. Employees Resist Prevention Training
Research by Media Partners found that employee resistance is the leading challenge underlying sexual harassment prevention training (as reported by learning and HR professionals). Differing personal perspectives, discomfort in addressing sexual harassment, and other issues may cloud employees’ views about prevention training, ultimately making them resistant to educational efforts and requiring employers to take significant actions to change mindsets.
6. Confusion about Compliance
When sexual harassment prevention training is required by government entities, confusion is a frequent result. With an increasing number of states taking action to mandate training, business leaders may be challenged to understand their legal obligations to provide appropriate training for their workforces. Qualified training providers with knowledge of current compliance requirements across all U.S. locations are must-have resources for organizations to ensure effective training compliance.