Training & Development

6 Tips for Creating a Training Program to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Foster a Respectful Workplace Culture

Andrew Rawson, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer


In today’s landscape, sexual harassment training needs to exist not just to eliminate company liability, but to educate and help prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place.

It’s been two years since the #MeToo movement sparked global conversations about sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result, organizations across industries are acknowledging the need to take proactive steps to address this pervasive problem and improve company culture. For HR professionals, this is an opportunity to review and revise policies, procedures and training to ensure they align with new anti-harassment measures and the needs of a 21st century workforce.

Training is one of the pillars of a holistic approach to preventing harassment and building a more respectful, inclusive workplace culture. Here are six tips that can make your harassment training program more relevant and engaging for your employees and managers:

1. Go beyond the check-the-box
Workplace experts agree that the conventional, check-the-box training model that focused on avoiding liability rather than stopping misconduct and creating a positive workplace isn’t sufficient in the #MeToo era. Today, innovations in e-learning and video production are transforming online training into a highly interactive learning experience. Instead of clicking through static slides and boring content, employees can see the effects of inappropriate conduct through scenario-based videos that dramatize real-world situations, interactive assessments and other elements designed to reinforce learning objectives and boost knowledge retention.

2. Include a message from your CEO
Sexual harassment training can have a greater impact on employees when they see and hear their CEO explain why training is important for everyone, and that individuals who engage in misconduct will be held accountable. A “tone from the top” message is a powerful way to reinforce the company’s commitment to preventing harassment and creating a positive workplace culture.

3. Teach respect, civility and bystander intervention
Incorporating concepts such as respect and civility that focus on positive ways to treat people can help reduce inappropriate behavior before it rises to the level of harassment. Workplace experts also agree that bystander intervention training is one of the most effective ways to prepare employees to safely intervene on behalf of a coworker, who is being harassed or threatened. Teaching employees techniques for responding, either directly or indirectly, enables them to be active bystanders, show support and empathy for targets of harassment, and help prevent future incidents. 

4. Ensure training complies with applicable laws

In Japan, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for Men and Women bans combats sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as makes it a requirement for employers to prevent it.
In the U.S., sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, one in five workers in the U.S. now lives in a state that requires employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training. To date, New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware and Maine have sexual harassment training requirements and the trend is expected to continue. 

Global organizations with U.S. employees should stay up to date on evolving anti-harassment laws in the U.S. and other countries. Regardless of whether it’s mandatory, there are many benefits to providing sexual harassment training to employees at all locations. 

5. Offer mobile-optimized training
Mobile-optimized training gives employees the flexibility to start a course on a laptop and complete it later on a smartphone or tablet — anywhere or anytime. And mobile technology enables HR managers and administrators to use any device to assign training courses, send out email and text reminders and track employee participation and completion.

6. Make training part of an ongoing process
Training is one of the essential steps in the long-term process of preventing harassment and building a better workplace. To be effective, training should be part of an ongoing education and communication strategy to raise awareness and encourage conversations about workplace conduct and culture throughout the year.

In today’s challenging work environment, choosing the right harassment prevention training has never been more important. Fortunately, HR has many creative options for providing interactive training that engages a modern workforce and promotes a respectful, inclusive culture.


Andrew Rawson is the Chief Learning Officer and Co-Founder of Traliant, a provider of award-winning
sexual harassment training and other topics designed for today’s diverse, mobile workforce. 


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