Tuesday, November 28, 2017

More on Cognitive Biases and Sexual Harassment Training

Yesterday, I argued that, to be effective, sexual harassment training must include training in recognizing and overcoming cognitive biases.  Otherwise, many sexual harassers will not recognize that they are sexual harassers.  (here)

Many others have recognized the inadequacy of traditional sexual harassment training.  For example, a recent article in the Washington Post stated, "Unfortunately, there is little evidence that training reduces sexual harassment. Rather, training programs, along with anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures, do more to shield employers from liability than to protect employees from harassment."  (here)  The article continued, "There have been only a handful of empirical studies of sexual harassment training, and the research has not established that such training is effective. Some studies suggest that training may in fact backfire, reinforcing gendered stereotypes that place women at a disadvantage." 

Similarly, an article in Time declared, "according to the Harvard Business Review, men who are found likely to harass women leave trainings sure that harassment is not a big deal."  Time noted, "Those trainings tend to focus on helping people understand the rules, law, and procedure around harassment."

In sum, instead of "helping people understand the rules, laws, and procedure around harassment," sexual harassment training must focus on why people sexually harass and help harassers recognize that they are harassers.  Otherwise, people may know the rules of workplace conduct, but they will not know how to conform to it.  In other words,  people must be taught about their cognitive biases.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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