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Better Companies

The Problem with Sexual Harassment Training

Hint: it protects companies more than potential victims

On Friday, Jena McGregor at The Washington Post published an analysis on why sexual harassment training programs that surged in the late 1990s, after two Supreme Court decisions, have done little to create more inclusive workplaces for women.

The best quote from McGregor's article that sums up why sexual harassment training is flawed is below. As Debra Katz simply says, these trainings are viewed as band aids that provide cover, but don't get to the root of changing a company's culture to prevent conditions where harassers feel empowered.

"It was sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card to companies," said Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer who represents plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases. After the 1998 decisions, she said, "there was like a cottage industry of trainers who went in and provided training. Most of those efforts were geared toward trying to protect themselves from liability as opposed to creating a sea change in the culture."

McGregor's article is filled with more possible reasons, including research that shows how sexual harassment trainings reinforced gender biases through materials that made women look like they had less power at organizations. Another fun fact from McGregor's piece is that only "five states have a mandate for harassment training for private and public employees (another 22 require it for some or all public-sector workers), according to the National Women's Law Center." Sexual harassment training is not nearly as prevalent as assumed.

So what can we do beyond pushing for broad cultural changes across corporations? That's a larger conversation that I'll break down in future blogs. In the meantime, watch Claire from HR cut to the core in a SNL skit below. She provides the best sexual harassment training I've seen to date (and no, that isn't a joke).

Claire from HR's Sexual Harassment Training


More articles on why sexual harassment training falls short:

Washington Post: What's the point of sexual harassment training? Often, to protect employers.

Bloomberg: Why Can't We Stop Sexual Harassment Training at Work?

CNN: Paul Ryan Orders Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Members, Staff

WW (Formerly Weight Watchers)

Tech Talks With Women Building The Future Of Wellness At WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

If you are based in the New York area and you'd like to attend this event, please email hi@powertofly.com to be considered for an invitation.

Weight Watchers has relaunched as WW which stands for "Wellness that Works". They are now a company dedicated to becoming the world's partner in wellness.

PowerToFly has partnered with WW for a series of tech talks led by women who are on the forefront of the company's transformation.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 14th from 6pm to 8pm at 675 6th Avenue, 6th Floor, New York.

Agenda (Subject to Change):

  • 6:00pm - Check-In and Networking over Light Food and Drinks
  • 6:20pm - Kickoff with PowerToFly
  • 6:25pm - Welcome & Introduction by Michael Lysaght, CTO of WW
  • 6:35pm - Tech Talk with Ifeoma Okereke, Software Engineer at WW
  • 6:45pm - Panel Discussion featuring women tech leaders at WW
  • 7:00pm - Audience Q&A
  • 7:20pm - Networking continues over Light Food & Drinks

Topics for the evening will including WW's work with Android and the process of integrating with conversational AI such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. We will also discuss WW's recent rebranding and their employee resource groups like Women in Tech are helping WW's women engineers take their careers to the next level.

Also, WW is hiring! To learn more about WW and their open positions, visit their page on PowerToFly.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require assistance to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and HomeAway cannot admit outside recruiters to this particular event. Please email hi@powertofly.com if you have any questions about this policy.

About WW: WW is looking for candidates to help change people's lives. We are a global wellness technology company inspiring millions of people to adopt healthy habits for real life. We do this through engaging digital experiences, face-to-face workshops and sustainable programs that encompass healthy eating, physical activity and positive mindset. By drawing on over five decades of experience and expertise in behavioral science, we build communities in order to deliver wellness for all.

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