Q&A: Fixing what’s missing from your sexual harassment training

John Sherman

As a business owner, you need to provide your employees with the best training possible. When implementing a program, it is essential that you focus on the most critical courses, including sexual harassment.


Considering the increasing number of sexual harassment incidents that occur in the workplace, make this portion of your training all-inclusive. In other words, the training you provide should cover all aspects of this problem. With the right training, your entire staff will know how to prevent sexual harassment incidents, recognize when something is wrong, and report the issue to the appropriate authority.

Even with the best of intentions, it is common for businesses to overlook something when formulating a sexual harassment training program. Due to the severity of this problem, you cannot afford to leave anything out. With the information provided, you can analyze your current program or one you plan to launch to ensure nothing is missing. Not only does that protect your employees, but your business as well.

Sexual Harassment Training Q & A

Q – Why is a sexual harassment training program so critical?

A – For one thing, this training protects all your employees. With the right courses, everyone in your organization has the same information as to what sexual harassment is and is not. They also understand the consequences of such behavior or failing to report an incident. Along with your staff, a training program protects your company from becoming the target of a lawsuit should someone target a worker.

Q – Is sexual harassment training meant for everyone?

A – Although every person in your organization should go through sexual harassment training, there are courses explicitly developed for management level employees. After all, in a position of authority, managers have a greater responsibility to their teams and the company as a whole.

Q – Does sexual harassment training make a difference?

A – Yes, it does. According to a 2015 report published by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were more than 6,800 reports of sexual harassment in that year alone. As a result of those reports, victims filed over 1,800 charges, which ended up costing companies $46 million in settlements.

Q – What other risks are there to not having an all-inclusive sexual harassment training program?

A – Many victims of sexual harassment struggle mentally or physically, or both. Also, once word leaks about an incident, there is significant risk of damage to your brand. After working hard to build a thriving business, the last thing you want is to see it destroyed because of someone’s poor decision.

Q – Does training help prevent cases of sexual harassment?

A – It does but only if your program covers all the critical components. Along with making courses on this subject mandatory for everyone, you need to implement a system for monitoring and analysis. For an effective training program, ask your staff for feedback about the topics included. Evaluating the reactions of your employees gives you tremendous insight as to whether the current training program is enough or if you need to modify it.

Q – Can sexual harassment training prevent company liability?

A – Although a business may not be off the hook entirely if an incident of sexual harassment occurs, several cases that made it to the Supreme Court could help it avoid liability. If a company can prove to the court that it took all preventative measures, including mandatory sexual harassment training, the court may find in its favor.

Q – Is sexual harassment training required by law?

A – It depends on the location of your company. Businesses in Connecticut and California with 50 employees or more must provide this type of training. In the state of Maine, any business with more than 15 employees has to provide sexual harassment training to everyone brought onboard within the first 12 months of hire. When developing a training program, make sure you check the mandates for your specific state.

Q – What areas should every sexual harassment training program cover?

A – For peace of mind, make sure you cover every possible area when developing a training program on sexual harassment.

  • Indirect Sexual Harassment – Harassment is not always about a person touching or pressuring someone for sexual favors. For instance, an employee within earshot of other workers telling dirty jokes, sharing nude photos, or talking about their sexual rendezvous constitutes sexual harassment. When choosing topics for your training program, everyone in your organization must understand the different sexual harassment scenarios. Whether the group is around a desk, in the elevator, or sitting in the lunch room, every employee deserves to have a “safe” work environment.
  • Conduct on the Outside – Training should include topics on outside conduct.  Whether at someone’s home, at a restaurant, or in some other setting outside of work, your employees should still conduct themselves in a way that follows the laws and your company policy on sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can even happen online through any social media platforms. If one of your employees harasses someone outside of business using email or text messaging, that too creates a major issue.
  • Non-Employee Harassment – Sexual harassment can also extend from an employee to a non-employee of your company, whether a sponsor, vendor, supplier, customer, or partner. While your company has no direct responsibility for what others do outside of the workplace, if you have someone in your organization that is a target of sexual harassment, there is still a level of responsibility in protecting that person.
  • Management Level Responsibility – The reason you need separate training for your managers is that in a leadership role, they hold a higher level of responsibility for preventing and handling this type of claim. Included are “non-managers,” people who are not actually on a manager’s level yet they have some degree of delegated authority.
  • Retaliation – Your sexual harassment training program should also cover retaliation, especially since this is often the reason behind someone misbehaving. As an example, if a worker pressures another employee for sexual favors but that individual declines, the harasser might retaliate in some way. Having an effective program will not only help your staff avoid and prevent inciting incidents but also send a stern warning the company will not tolerate sexual harassment or retaliatory behavior.

Professionally Developed Courses

For the broadest selection of sexual harassment courses developed by experts with years of experience and expertise, Go1 is your best source. You will find a ton of information for your training program, ensuring that you do not overlook anything.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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