By Elaine Doyle
Allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and inappropriate behaviour have been frequently surfacing in the media. Most recently stories from the entertainment industry, the notoriety of the ‘casting couch’ seems it has valid origins.
Workplaces, in all industries should be a place free of the fear of harassment. Staff should be safeguarded with organisational policies and procedures in place clearly stating what is, and what is NOT appropriate. But the question is, are organisations effectively communicating these policies? Do policies become the organisation's culture or just collect dust in a policy manual?
The revelation of these harassment stories suggests a change in culture. Moving toward a synthesis of safe workplace policy and practice. Harassment cases discussed in the media are a great conversation starter with staff on the importance of a safe workplace culture free of harassment.
When misconduct happens the immediate victim(s) of the misconduct are not the only ones affected. The implications are far reaching. The organisation can be marred with the slur of a culture of inappropriate conduct. Customers/clients/suppliers influenced by the negative media may want to cut connections with your organisation to avoid being associated with such behaviour. In essence employee bad behaviour is bad for business.
Geoffrey Rush stepped down as President of AACTA Australia’s screen industry academy following allegations from the Sydney Theatre Company of inappropriate conduct. The indirect impact has been felt by Melbourne Theatre Company’s forthcoming production of Shakespeare's 12th Night with Rush as the leading actor. The production compromised by the recent allegations. MTC are monitoring the situation and have received no complaints against Rush who has starred in previous productions.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle stood down pending investigations of allegations of sexual harassment, indecent assault and misconduct. Allegations at this high level of leadership not only affect the internal operations of the City of Melbourne but relationships with event partners, Melbourne being the sporting capital of Australia.
How does an organisation promote and maintain a harassment free internal culture?
Communicating culture is key:
Clear rules - what is not appropriate or unacceptable
Clear consequences - what will happen
Clear reporting procedure - easy to follow, supported and non judgemental procedure should be readily available to staff.
Living document - should be regularly reviewed, promoted and a commitment should be acknowledged
Team leaders and management should be trained
in identifying inappropriate behaviour, communicate and guide appropriate behaviour and provide restorative leadership conversations
Staff under investigation of allegations should be removed from their role pending the outcome of the investigation
Promote your policy - state your policy on your company website and internally
Create a press release/ script/ video, pre prepared that communicates the robust policy and culture of your organisation.
Isolate the individuals behaviour from the culture of the organisation, this is the individual, not the organisations behaviour
Communicate compassion with a consistent voice of the organisation’s culture in all media statements and company communications.
Diagnosing and identifying potential crisis situations is the first step of Crisis Shield’s, crisis management methodology. Crisis Shield research, analyse, evaluate and provide their clients with a report on organisational risk. Further further crisis planning, preparedness and staff training can be provided for clients for comprehensive risk management solutions.