#Metoo has created a new world of awareness and change in our society. After reading multiple posts from family, friends, and co-workers, I was shocked at how widespread gender and sexual harassment was in the workplace. When you see #metoo posts from your daughter and daughter-in-law, it saddens me to the core.
Everyone needs to take a values personal inventory. We need to look into ourselves with integrity to see if we are part of the problem and if so, identify what we need to change ourselves to correct this character flaw. Society will eradicate these unhealthy actions when we heal ourselves. But societal healing is a long process, so in the meantime, credit unions need to do everything in their power to correct the wrongs of the past and present.
Now, more than ever, we need to set a new tone in our work culture. Here are eight steps to take, starting today:
- Create a safe space for anyone that has demonstrated the courage to register a complaint. This safe place must be devoid of bureaucracy. When you read of the reporting failures, it is because of a lack of trust in the credibility of the accuser but also because of an organizational effort to protect the status quo management.
- Investigative efforts should have only two goals; to discover the truth and to protect the victim. There has been a tendency in the past to protect the reputation of the perpetrators of these atrocities, even to the point of using shareholder/stakeholder dollars to settle complaints with the sole purpose of keeping them out of public view.
- Make the values of your credit union the primary staple of your culture. Use the values as the basis for all performance reviews, coaching sessions, and grounds for hiring or promoting.
- Include in the credit union values “respect for diversity.” But don’t only publish the words, define what the words mean and train all employees on how to live this value in their jobs as employees, supervisors, managers, and executives.
- Create a climate of, “see and tell.” If an employee suspects a coworker is being harassed or mistreated, it should be reported to HR. Companies should have a “report now” box. When it comes to learning about a potential problem, earlier is better.
- Pre-screening of all potential hires and candidates for promotion should include testing or a questionnaire to understand the candidate’s position on gender equality and respect.
- Companies with more women in leadership positions have fewer sexual harassment issues. Promote based on the best candidate, but make sure that there is not a gender bias in these decisions; HR needs to review all promotions and hires to mitigate any potential for gender bias.
- Sexual harassment training is shown to be most effective when senior executives also attend the sessions. A tactic to consider is scheduling one senior executive in attendance at each of these training sessions.
- When a situation happens, that indicates there has been gender bias, the individual(s) involved need to be disciplined, immediately. This discipline may likely include firing the employee that behaved outside of the values of the organization.
Once the credit union values the person, her abilities, skills, and qualifications, versus judging them by gender or appearance, the organization will win because all employees will succeed.