Here are ten ideas, taken from public and private efforts to reduce harassment and create cultural change, that each of us might consider for our own organizations to implement the spirit of #DoBetter. Some derive from large company initiatives but are scalable down for smaller enterprises. Some derive from recommendations by women’s rights organizations. Some are just common sense. In each case, the basic principle is a necessity in a meaningful program for cultural change and the details are examples of how some organizations implement the principle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azbRhVCt8Rw.) Have group managers discuss equality issues on a quarterly basis at their all hands or other staff meetings. Consider inviting visible outsiders to address these events, at the invitation of upper management. Consider donating to various pro-equity causes as a visible statement of commitment. Change comes from the top. Let no one think they have a free pass from the C suite if they engage in harassment. And let everyone know the C-suite has their back if they are a complainant or intervening bystander or witness.
2. Screen management level candidates. Companies, in particular, should consider whether, and if so, how, they might screen potential management candidates to determine if they have had problems at prior employers or institutions in the area of harassment, bullying, or discrimination. A recent Wall Street Journal survey of harassment prevention strategies reported it this way: “As a best practice, companies should be doing background checks on all senior level and board hires, digging in 25 years or more.” (WSJ 2-6-19, Business & Finance, p.1.) This information is often hard to find by public record search, but there are screening and information retrieval techniques that can be used to take the most important part of preventive action: Don’t hire harassers. Look before you leap; inquire before you hire.
Consider designating a Chief Diversity Officer (this is being done increasingly by larger law firms) or a Partner in Charge of diversity and cultural change issues. Keep harassment issues on a regular agenda. Do a self-audit or self-assessment; don’t wait for plaintiff’s expert to do it for you in litigation. Ask: In what areas of our function are there power dynamics that might foster inequality and increase vulnerability? How are we doing in policing employees who seem to have a tendency to push limits or engage in questionable behavior? On the other side, how are we doing in empowering victims and bystanders to report their experiences? In outreach? Be proactive. Think of cultural change as requiring a strategic marketing plan: Envision equality and meritocracy, and keep on message to get there. Use the TTRF tool kit adopted by one Fortune 25 company: Teach, Test, provide Resources, and increase Frequency of message touches. Make your message be visible, clear, frequently repeated, and powerful. Most people will do the right thing if a company tells them plainly what the right thing is. Define and sell your vision.