How to Handle Sexual Harassment as an Employer

sexual harassment workplace
 
The #MeToo movement exploded into America’s consciousness in the Fall of 2017, shaking executive offices and boardrooms across the country. Initially promoted in 2006 by women of color who had suffered sexual abuse, the movement became mainstream on social media after actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The massive response to her tweet was unexpected and became the basis for a national movement.
 
Encouraged by movie stars recounting their experiences, millions of women (and some men) have written or spoken about their mistreatment by powerful men and women. For many, the extent of sexual harassment and abuse in our male-dominated society was a revelation as it became clear that no sphere — schools, sports organizations, government agencies, churches, or workplaces — has been immune to the powerful exploiting the powerless for generations.
 
The consequences of sexual misconduct are swift in today’s climate. As TIME magazine reports, “Nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.” Time’s Up, an advocacy group formed in 2018, focuses solely on sexual harassment and women’s issues in the workplace. One of their aims is to bring about additional federal and state legislation to punish companies that tolerate harassment.
 
While many companies have had sexual harassment policies in place for decades, this new atmosphere places managers under even stronger pressure to uphold these policies and provide employees with a safe, supportive working environment. If you’re a manager wondering how the #MeToo movement affects your responsibilities, here is what you need to know.

How Extensive Is the Problem?

WIRED magazine reports that the extent of harassment in the workplace is unknown due to the increased use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in settlement negotiations. Confidentiality provisions can hide the acts of serial abuse by powerful, wealthy men such as current President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Roger Ailes for years. As former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Ailes to escape the NDA she signed with Fox in 2013, told WIRED, these agreements “both silence the victim and fool our culture into thinking we’ve come so far when we have not.”
 
Women have silently endured sexual harassment in the workplace for generations. In previous generations, they rarely reported or spoke of these instances for fear they might lose their jobs or chances for promotion. A 2016 study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that three-quarters of working women had experienced unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion (including physical touching) on the job, but less than 10% filed a formal complaint.
 
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Killer Apps Explained – History, Examples, Impacts & Future

killer apps
 
Can you imagine a future where computers monitor humans from birth, predict sickness, and help us heal faster? Or a time when chronically ill or elderly persons can live at home and be monitored by instruments that a home nurse or caregiver can use?
 
Judith Donath, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, predicts that individual healthy diets based on each person’s unique genetics, locations, and activities are going to be common in the future, while drugstores will have booths that function as remote examining, treatment, and simple surgery rooms. In 1950, few could imagine the impact computers would have on everyday life in the year 2000. Today, everyone has a mobile phone, email has replaced physical letters, and online markets are challenging the economics of brick-and-mortar retailers.

The Emergence of Killer Applications (Apps)

Merriam-Webster defines “killer app” as “a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated.” PC Magazine calls it “the first of a new breed.” To a layman, a killer app is a computer application that saves money, time, or energy, makes the user safer, or enhances the experiences of the user to the degree that it must be acquired and used.
 
The 1979 appearance of the first killer app, VisiCalc, ignited widespread business and personal use by consumers – use that couldn’t have been conceived of in the early 1940s when computers were first developed. According to the Computer History Museum, computer use in its initial stages was limited to research laboratories, large companies, and the Federal Government.
 
Personal computers (PCs) appeared in the early 1970s with the introduction of the microprocessor, integrated circuit boards, and solid state memory. The first commercially accepted PCs (Apple II, PET 2000, and TRS-80) were introduced in 1977 but remained niche products for the scientific community and hobbyists. According to a 1983 article in InfoWorld, only a half-million microcomputers were in place in 1980, and they were primarily used to play simple electronic games.
 
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Joining the Military After High School – Benefits and Risks

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Military service has long been a path for social and economic mobility – the gateway to the middle class – for thousands of young American men and women. Service is both a way to see the world and learn valuable skills that can be transferred into civilian life – and many enlistees would not have the opportunity to attend college or purchase a house without the benefits associated with military service. Furthermore, veterans who forego college are likely to earn higher pay than non-veterans who do the same. According to Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University, interviewed in The Fiscal Times, “Even if they [veterans] don’t earn more education, they certainly earn more money.”
 
The opportunity to learn responsibility, focus, and discipline from military service can benefit enlistees for life. People in the military are taught how to make decisions in extreme conditions and function in periods of stress – traits critical in civilian life. However, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the risks as well as the benefits of military service, and what the commitment to a career in the Armed Forces involves.

Military Experience and Success

Political Leaders

In addition to the financial benefits of military service, the training and experience it provides have enabled many to achieve high positions in politics and business. Since World War II, 10 of the United States’ 12 presidents have served in the country’s military. While the percentage of senators and representatives with military service has steadily declined since the 1970s, veterans continue to represent a significant portion of Congress. According to the Congressional Research Service, 73% in the 92nd Congress (1971 to 1972) had military experience, while 18.7% of the 114th Congress (2015 to 2016) were veterans.

Business Leaders

Executive offices of the country’s largest companies are full of military veterans. These include:

  • Frederick W. Smith: The founder and CEO of FedEx served with the Marines in two tours of duty in Vietnam.
  • Roger Staubach: Staubach, a former Heisman Trophy winner and founder of a national real estate firm, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served two years in Vietnam.
  • Alex Gorsky: The chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and served six years in the U.S. Army.

 
According to a 2012 report by the Center for New American Security, companies are likely to pay higher starting salaries for employees with military service. The reasons cited for the employers’ preference include:

  • Leadership and Teamwork Skills: Typically, veterans have led colleagues, accepted direction from others, and operated as part of a small team.
  • Character: Veterans are perceived as being trustworthy, dependable, and drug-free, and having a strong work ethic.
  • Structure and Discipline: Companies, especially those that emphasize safety, appreciate veterans’ experience following established procedures.
  • Expertise: Companies value veterans’ technical skills, job-specific experiences, and understanding of the military community.

Entrepreneurs

Veterans are responsible for a significant percentage of start-up and small businesses using the experience and education provided during their service. According to Marianne Hudson writing in Forbes, 30% of all American businesses are owned by veterans. As a consequence, the National Veteran-Owned Business Association proudly proclaims, “The lessons learned and lived in military service like leadership, teamwork, competitive spirit, mission-orientation, and ambition are the same attributes needed to succeed in business.”
 
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Can a Zebra Change Its Stripes?

Zebra pregnant front view looking cutoutOften, there is some grain of truth in old sayings and myths. That is why they persist over time and generations. As I considered my own situation, I realized that one of the first questions I needed to answer was whether I could truly change old habits and patterns of thinking, if wanting to have a different life and future is really sufficient to make the effort successful. Perhaps the desire alone is not enough and there are factors that preclude some people from ever being satisfied with their achievements or happy.
 
Skeptics have always questioned whether people, particularly adults, can change, leading to such idioms as

“A Zebra can’t change his stripes.”
“Old habits die hard.”
“You can’t teach an old dogs new tricks.”
“The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“The sins of the Father are present in the son.”
 

When we look around us, we see the world and our environment constantly changing. Humans are the result of millions of years of evolution, generation after generation of subtle differences. Everything changes all of the time, sometimes too slow to recognize but occurring never-the-less. We are biologically predisposed to change, to adapt to our environments just as we influence our surroundings to accommodate our needs more efficiently. This propensity is apparent in the way our brains work, the influence of memory on our outlook, even the impact of emotions on our behavior.
 
This conflict between constant change and the paradoxical tendency of people to resist change led me to research how the human brain works, the influence of genetics upon our decisions, and why some people are able to make massive changes in their lives and others try, but fail.

Is Success Predestined? Failure Inevitable?

Each of us is both a victim and a beneficiary of our ancestors and our environment. Based upon our genetic tendencies, reinforced by the environments in which we mature and live, each of us develops stereotypes and habits to respond to events and conditions. Our personality reflects our characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving as seen by others. To understand better who we are as well as develop techniques to change, it is important to understand how our brains works, what if any limitations we might inherit from our parents, and how memory affects our decisions as well as the connection between our personality and our mind. As British psychiatrist Dr. Susan Greenfield says, “personality” is how others see you while “Mind” or “Self” is what it feels like to be you. In other words, your “mind” is the emotions you feel at a particular time and location. Even though outside events trigger negative emotions, how we respond to them – their impact and duration – is within our control.
 
Failure is a matter of perspective and can either be a motivator or an obstacle to overcome. Failure is not a predictor of the future, nor a indication of a person’s value. Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time, said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I have missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
 
Similarly, there is no absolute definition of success or the elements that make one person happy versus another. Most of us are guilty of letting others influence whether we feel successful or not, generally by how much money we make or the assets we have. But tangible measures can be false indicators. How many houses can a person live in at a time? Is there really a difference between a $500 suit and a $5000 suit? With highway speed limits at 70 mph, does it make a difference whether you drive a Chevrolet or a Maserati? Of course, it does. Not, however, because of the tangible difference in benefits, but because “more, bigger, faster, more expensive” brings more status from those around us.
 

[one_third]steve jobs 2 [/one_third][one_third]Who is happier – a Steve Jobs who made millions by designing products that makes life more entertaining, exciting, and easier for millions or Mother Theresa who lived a simple life while focusing the world’s attention on the poor, the homeless, the persecuted? I suspect that both were happy and both probably considered their lives a success, but neither would have changed places with the other expecting to find more happiness as a result.[/one_third] [one_third_last]Mother Theresa[/one_third_last]