Many of you who are old enough to remember this quote from Walt Kelly’s great cartoon character, Pogo, will remember
that it came out at the time of the first Earth Day. It was a call for
improvement in the world we lived in at the time. I bring it up for you
and a newer generation because I fear that we have met a new enemy and
it is not environmental quality.
Read the newspaper or watch the
evening news and you can’t escape the circus centered around Herman Cain
and his circumstances surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace
while he was with the National Restaurant Association. Many of the local
SHRM chapters hold an annual diversity and inclusion meeting and
management calls for more employee engagement.
So tell me how do
you preach diversity and inclusion when your walk says that we accept
employees to be less then people? How do we send the message that there a
certain levels of behavior that corporate policy condemns and then we
let management, co-workers and suppliers openly violate the stated
To get an eye-opener, subscribe to the RSS feed
from the EEOC and see the barage of charges that are behind the
complaints. They clearly show a pattern with in our organizations for
treating employees as less than the individuals they are. Some of the
charges spank of a long go workplace environment where employees were
treated as property rather than human capita assets.
Consider theses examples:
- well known medical company decided that a pregnant worker did not
belong working for the company as an area leader because it did not fit
- Sears just got fined for age, sex, and race discrimination of a 40 yr old African-American employee.
- Companies who got rid of the trouble maker who reported sexual
harassment but left the employee who who took the actions in place
despite the problems.
To make matters worse in many cases the person who made the complaint
has shortly there after been dismissed from their jobs because of
making the complaints. we conduct a seminar entitled “Who Am I- The Role
of Human Capital in the Global Workplace” in which we talk about the
new paradigms that come out of the work environment when employees are
considered assets and not expenses.
One of those paradigms
suggests that our human capital assets expect that they will work in an
environment that is free from both harassment and violence. They expect
that they will be treated as valuable part of the organization they
represent. As a member of management you have the responsibility to
ensure that the workplace is free of circumstances that could be
considered harassment in nature whether they are brought about by
management, supervisors, fellow employees or outside vendors and
customers. It is your duty to route out these behaviors when you see
If you need a real picture of the aftermath consider hat could happen to
Joe Paterno over the charges that someone who worked for him was guilty
of harassment against children who were under his supervision. Paterno
reported it but it still could come back to haunt his career.
So the next time you hear about a complaint of harassment in your workplace be sure you take the following strategic efforts:
- Don’t automatically dismiss the complaint under the believe that
the person who the complaint is about would not do something like that.
- Completely investigate the complaint, talking to all parties involved and any witnesses.
- Document your findings without judging the outcomes.
- If the complaint is substantiated, take concrete steps to find a
solution which will make it less likely that this kind of behavior will
- Provide comprehensive training to both management and the rank and file as to what constitutes harassment in the workplace.
You have the tools in your hands to decide whether your organization is
one of the best places to work or is considered a place where people go
to just for the pay. You decide whether the workplace is one that is
conducive to professional collaboration devoid of pressure to do a job
based on what you are willing to tolerate. In this hard economic climate
we are in, employees who feel that they are less than valuable assets
will not be inclined to stay as part of your organization.