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Sexual Harassment – What do you suggest a preventative system would look like?

toxic guy

Sexual harassment continues to be a problem as highlighted by ‘Insight’ on Channel SBS. The stories shared by Jemma and the other panelists were shocking. Our system is failing our community and it is failing our women.

The conversation from the audience was interesting but unfortunately no solution was identified. Interestingly, incidents occurred where alcohol and work related parties/activities were occurring. This experience is true from many of our own investigations.  Casual attitudes equal casual behaviours.

Doing more of the same seems pointless, and something needs to be done to disrupt this status quo. Increased legislation, increased damages and regulation are not providing the results we need. People (leaders in organisations) are failing their people. HR is more often than not powerless to solve incidents. The political framework and the cost benefit analysis of losing a ‘gun’ employee who is a perpetrator is a barrier to change.  Too often people make a decision to ‘settle’ and make the problem go away rather than deal in a mature fashion with the perpetrator.  Lives and families can be changed forever.

Most concerning from the interviews on Insight was the attitude of not complaining because its ‘too hard’, ‘too damaging’, ‘too expensive’. Under reporting of incidents is a problem and we do not truly know the extent of the problem.

Why is it that we still endure this problem in 2014?  Laws were created in the mid 1980’s to deter this behaviour however it still continues. The cost to people, organisations and our productivity cannot be understated. A different, more holistic approach is needed and perhaps have elements such as these:

  • The most serious of sexual harassment incidents that involve sexual assault ought to be criminalised as was serious workplace bullying in Victoria;
  • An effective weapon against sexual harassment is prevention;
    • create an environment and system where people can speak up without fear;
    • use independent 3rd parties to allow for disclosures and representation of employees (HR is not trusted);
    • act quickly to intervene without blame, make it hard for alleged behaviour to continue unnoticed – rather like a thief who moves away from a secure target;
    • DO NOT do nothing when an employee discloses – treat a disclosure like you would a machine missing a guard or a trip hazard;
    • risk profile workplaces and teams – establish systems where lead indicators of behavioural risk can be identified and acted upon;
  • Establish mandatory reporting on organisational performance in regard to incidents, and preventative governance measures (policy suite, training, systems and procedures);
  • Only employee temporary contractors that can certify that they have their own robust training and compliance regime in place just as we do with OH&S accreditation or certifications;

I am sure other measures can be designed to assist. Organisations are not doing enough, regulation and legislation must step up.

We conducted our own research of Australian workers and found sadly, that 37% of people reporting sexual harassment felt that no-one cared and were told to ‘toughen up’ by their manager. This was the case for Jemma on the ‘Insight’ program.

Alarmingly, 24% of cases reported that organisations (people & leaders) either did nothing or made matters worse and 11% of people experiencing sexual harassment felt sad, alone, and had contemplated suicide.

Here is one story of the hundreds we received through our research:
“This takes place nearly every day. It ranges from men trying to put their hands down my top to trying to kiss me and ‘feel me up’. They make inappropriate advances to me and when I take it to my manager he just laughs. Generally there are people around when this happens but it gets worse when no-one is around. On employee came around to my house in the middle of the night, banging on my door and texting me. My manager is someone I thought I could go to but, nothing changes. I have to leave my job.”

And another:
“Whilst one of my female colleagues was bending over, a male colleague came up behind her and simulated sex”

Research Statistics
14% of people complained to their manager;
16% took legal action;
10% resigned;
23% took long term sick leave (more than 30 days);
12% reported bad behaviour toward them was copied by others;
30% of people did not report it;
(people under 34 years of age are most at risk)

Industry Sector Statistics – The Top 5
Hospitality = 22% of sexual harassment reports;
Business & Finance = 16%;
Retail = 15%;
Transport = 14%;
Emergency Services = 12%;

State & Territory Statistics
Tasmania – 18%;
Queensland – 14%;
Western Australia – 13%;
New South Wales – 12%;
South Australia – 12%;
Victoria – 11%;
Northern Territory – 11%
Australian Capital Territory 7%

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Supporting SMEs Toward Greater Productivity

We exist to keep people safe from bad behaviour at work and to protect the organisations they work in.

Small to medium enterprises make a significant contribution to the economy, accounting for just less than 50% of private sector industry employment and contributing approximately 33% of private sector industry value to the economy. SMEs generally do not have access to services that they need from a governance perspective and from an employee health and well-being perspective. Unfortunately, for many people working in SMEs, a day at the office can be unpleasant.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Our Great Day@Work platform is positively disrupting how people are kept safe at work, how people access help and how organisations are protected. Our platform services SMEs and big business throughout Australia.

Thinking of accessing an EAP for example ? the frequently asked questions are answered below:

Cost
The cost of an Employee Assistance Program is usually based on utilization. Usually15% of employees access an EAP program in a given quarter for an average duration of 3 consultations. Additional consultations may be arranged between employee and counselor. EAP’s are intended to be a confidential service supporting employees and their families in response to:

  • Interpersonal conflict with peers and supervisors
  • Work change / stress
  • Harassment / grievance issues
  • Disciplinary matters
  • Work performance and role issues
  • Management coaching
  • Career transition issues
  • Relationship and family matters
  • Personal / emotional stress
  • Psychological health issues (anxiety/depression)
  • Grief and loss
  • Alcohol and drug related issues
  • Work related debriefing post incident
  • Crisis intervention and trauma counselling for personal problems

Happy People Save Money

If 5% of your employees used the EAP the potential monetary savings would be 3.45% of payroll for reduced absenteeism and improved productivity from problem employees.

Reduce Absenteeism
15% of the work force causes 90% of absenteeism. Emotional factors account for 61% of time lost through absenteeism. Statistics suggest that the typical employee is absent 8 days per year. Their studies also show that absenteeism costs the employer 1.75% of an absent employee’s wages. Companies spend 5.6% of their payroll on absenteeism.

Increase Productivity
It is estimated that 10% to 15% of employees are likely to have severe emotional wellbeing problems. The work performance of these employees is at least 35% below expected levels. The reduced productivity of troubled employees costs companies 3.5% to 5% of payroll.
An employee with problems disrupts the working environment of others.

Reduce Turnover
Only 15% of terminations are the result of employees’ inability to perform their job function. Personal and interpersonal factors account for 65% to 80% of all terminations. EAP helps employees resolve personal and interpersonal problems before they think leaving you is the answer.

Disability
Stress contributes to 85% of accidents. An effective EAP will reduce the stress of your people. This will reduce the claims and rates of your extended work cover claims. Your long-term absentees will reduced as a result of the lower risk of your employees.

 We want to help you help your team toward greater engagement and productivity.

 

 

It’s time men ‘Leaned In’ to address gender inequality

I attended the recent Marie Claire success summit in Sydney. I wanted to attend because I feel strongly that women in work in Australia need men to be actively engaged on this issue of gender equality. I felt I needed to be a part of the conversation that is going on. I was one of 2 men who attended the summit that was attended by over 700 women delegates. We enjoyed listening to amazing women speakers who had powerful messages to share.

Frankly, I was surprised so few men attended. Gender equality is not simply a women’s issue. It is a whole of community issue. The business case is now done and dusted, gender equality is a good thing and we must collectively and resolutely resolve this issue. Just as Sheryl Sandberg through her book called for women to ‘lean in’ and to participate, so it is for men.

Through my work I hear men say “I just don’t see inequality”, “it is not really an issue in 2014”. However, just because gender inequality is not ‘seen’, does not mean it does not exist. It does.

Men in denial or worse, men who are disinterested or disengaged are in fact adding to the problem instead of being involved in the solution. Risk to Business continues to investigate matters of discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace bullying throughout Australia. Our own research in  clearly indicates it is still going on in Australia. On occasion we are perplexed about how those behaviours can still occur in the 21st century.

Gender Inequality – Fast Facts:

• There is an 18.2% pay gap between genders across the board in Australia;
• Of the 226 seats in the Federal Parliament, 69 are held by women, and women comprise 29.0 per cent of all parliamentarians in Australia. Only have one woman holding a top job in the cabinet. Women hold half the voting power in Australia;
• 36 of the ASX200 still have no female representation on Boards and the latest document states the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 18.6% (31 August 2014) according to the AICD;
• The average superannuation account balance for women was $40,475, compared to $71,645 for men. Men have round 63% of total superannuation account balances, compared to 37% for women. Most women live longer and will likely retire without sufficient funds to sustain them;
• Like Australia, women in the US continue to outpace men in educational achievement, but women’s participation has stalled in progress at the top of any industry. In the US women hold around 14% of Fortune 500 executive-officer positions and about 17% of board seats, numbers that have barely improved over the last decade.

Women do not need us men to ‘fix’ them, or to fix the ‘problem’, but to work alongside them and with them to overcome the clear inequalities that exist in Australia.

I heard Elizabeth Broderick speak powerfully of her concerns around gender inequality, and how important the male champions of change program is to change. A few days later Elizabeth Broderick received an award and recognition as the most influential woman in 2014. Her Male Champions of Change program, which puts powerful men at the forefront of updating attitudes about the capability and place of women at top levels of business, is being replicated in other states, and in various industries. These male champions are ‘leaning in’. More action is needed.

So, I pose the question. What can you do as a man, a husband, a business owner, operator, manager, a leader, and a father, do to lean in? Think about it and get involved in debate and action. What will your legacy be on this important issue? If you need help on a starting point, contact me.

Finding bad apples

bad apple

Bad apples exist throughout society and business is no different – these people need to be found before they make the other apples bad. Before the rot sets in – as they say. I have spent much of my life finding the bad apples. I have observed that Business and employees need protection and that compliance alone is not adequate.

CCndexLast week I was fortunate to be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Comcare National Conference in Melbourne. I shared with more than 650 delegates about where my passion for keeping workplaces safe. I went on to tell of my deep sense of purpose and my thoughts about preventing inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. The central point of my presentation was that staying in a place of compliance is not a safe place for organisations to be and that ‘hope is not a strategy’.

I challenged the audience to consider:

If you focus, take a systems approach and you are tenacious, you get to play a bigger game.

For most organisations the response to prevention of workplace behaviour risk is defined by the ‘risk appetite‘ of the executives, directors and leaders within and of course, budget. The obligation on directors & organisations to provide a safe workplace is very clear. Regulators and tribunals know this and encourage compliance to a standard. A standard developed which is a minimum standard. This standard is often patently inadequate given the resources available to larger organisations.

We are seeing increased compliance and regulation placed on organisations around safety because compliance alone isn’t preventing or reducing workplace behavour risk adequately. It isn’t fueling the adequate pace of reduction in injury and cost reduction.

Cats ndexAdopting a minimum standard is like a sporting side taking the field in a ‘do or die’ final and the players only doing their minimum, instead of playing full on. Imagine the coaches and supporters viewing such an approach from their team. I have no doubt that changes would be made quickly to improve performance.

To me the approach for us is no different but the stakes are much higher. We are not simply playing for a trophy and accolades. We are playing for greater engagement, productivity and the improved health and well being of Australian workers and their families. Not just for now but for future generations.

Here is the irony – I know we have done a great job for our clients when they no longer need us…

Could you play a bigger game to keep your team safe?

Bullying & Bystanders

We can all be leaders in our own way. Leadership is hard, it requires focus and attention in every moment.

This experiment and clip serves to focus us on the importance and relevance of values based leadership to solving a problem and to show a better way, despite the personal consequences. Winston Churchill’s words in action.

Everyone has a role to play in stopping bullying behaviour, wherever it occurs. To quote this great leader again:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” – Winston Churchill

 

 

 

A Blue Print for Company Directors & Boards – A Risk Mitigation Framework

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Directors & Boards have a clear obligation to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the work health and safety of employees. This obligation is broadly applied by the courts and tribunals. The reduction of risk associated with unlawful or inappropriate employee conduct features prominently in that obligation.  Mainly because of cost resulting from increasing premiums from stress claims and emotional injury.  However, behaviour risk mitigation as a function of HR or HS&E operates in the absence of ‘real’ and ‘effective’ data collection and high level monitoring or awareness. Directors may delegate responsibility for a function but not the accountability.

In Australia, regulators and community (customers) expect management, directors and boards to actively to seek out behaviour risk and eliminate it. The question constantly asked by regulators, courts and tribunals is this: “What was reasonably practicable given an organisations capacity and resources available to it to ensure the work health and safety of employees was not put at risk?”

The question asked by parents and families (customers) of people affected by bad behaviour at work is simply: “How could this happen to our son, daughter or family member?” How many other people will they tell?

The response to prevention is defined by the ‘risk appetite‘ of the executives, directors and Board members within organisations.  There are gamblers – playing with risk to brand and reputation, and there are visionaries who believe increased productivity and profitability will come from increased employee engagement and feelings of connection within in safe work environment. Regulators and tribunals know this and force compliance to a standard. A standard developed to a minimum standard. This minimum standard is often patently inadequate given resources available to larger organisations.

The behaviour recorded in this clip is unacceptable, we would all agree. Another employee recorded it and it went viral on You Tube.  How devastating would it be to have your brand and reputation trashed in such a public way?  How does you organisation collect data which presents lead indicators of risk? Are you a gambler or a visionary?

In 2013 Ernst & Young surveyed 641 companies in 21 countries to uncover the top 10 risks articulated by company directors and senior executives.

Cost Cutting & Profit Pressure (impacting on growth) – 2nd on the list, cost control and reduction is impacted upon by unexpected cost and damage to brand caused by claims and grievances about inappropriate behaviour  and ineffective risk mitigation systems;

Market Risk (impacting on growth & market position) – 3rd on the list, market growth and position is impacted upon by damage to brand and reputation from the unexpected crisis – such as a public exposure to a discrimination or sexual harassment claim – remember the David Jones crisis who’s customer base was predominantly female, the Cafe VAMP case and suicide of employee Brodie Panlock who was bullied at work, and the CSIRO public disclosure of a bullying culture.

Regulation & Compliance – 7th on the list, this concern is impacted upon by the ever-increasing compliance requirements. For example, changes to the Fair Work Act, which included new powers for the Fair Work Commission to stop workplace bullying and adverse action.

If there was a way to identify and reduce risk through early intervention, would you be interested? What questions need to be asked to facilitate that?

A blue print for effective risk mitigation & compliance requires Directors to ask 5 key questions:

  • “How do our systems of data collection effectively identify, measure and enable mitigation of behaviour risk for our business?”
  • “How do we ensure we are firmly in the preventative space and not in a reactive one?
  • “How do we identify what workplace behaviours are accepted and promoted in our business?”
  • “How do our structures and processes governing how work support risk mitigation?”
  • “Whom can our employees really talk to when they have a concern or problem about another employee’s behaviour?”

If these reasonable questions are asked openly, the path will emerge about what needs to be done. Support is available.

 

How can your leadership change the world of one person?

I love this short story about ‘The Star Thrower’ because I believe that people should have a great day at work, every day. I believe that we all have a leadership role to play.

  •  The Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner reported that 28 per cent of women had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to seven per cent of men. The best way to reduce these figures is to not be tolerant of sexual harassment.
  • Over the past five years there has been a 56% increase in the number of inquiries made to the Australian Human Rights Commission in regard to incidents of discrimination. Values based leadership and programs reduce discrimination.

Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

I believe that we can all make a contribution – person by person, workplace by workplace. I believe that people do their best work when they feel safe, engaged and part of something bigger than themselves. I believe that no person should be bullied, discriminated against or sexually harassed at work. I believe we can all make a difference, through our leadership and values. Contribution is important.

How can your leadership change the the world of one person?

 

Sexual Harassment – Research Update

Stuart Training - Close Up 2013

Our Australian research revealed that the younger people are the greater the risk of sexual harassment. Sadly, 37% of people reporting sexual harassment felt that no-one cared and were told to ‘toughen up’ by their manager. Alarmingly 24% of cases reported that organisations either did nothing or made matters worse and 11% of people experiencing sexual harassment felt sad, alone, and contemplated suicide.

Here is one story of the hundreds we received during our work:

Leadership Required
“This takes place nearly every day. It ranges from men trying to put their hands down my top to trying to kiss me and ‘feel me up’. They make inappropriate advances to me and when I take it to my manager he just laughs. Generally there are people around when this happens but it gets worse when no-one is around. On employee came around to my house in the middle of the night, banging on my door and texting me. My manager is someone I thought I could go to but, nothing changes. I have to leave my job.”

And another:
“Whilst one of my female colleagues was bending over, a male colleague came up behind her and simulated sex”

Research Statistics
14% of people complained to their manager;
16% took legal action;
10% resigned;
23% took long term sick leave (more than 30 days);
12% reported bad behaviour toward them was copied by others;
30% of people did not report it;
people under 34 years of age are most at risk;

Industry Sector Statistics – The Top 5
Hospitality = 22% of sexual harassment reports;
Business & Finance = 16%;
Retail = 15%;
Transport = 14%;
Emergency Services = 12%;

State & Territory Statistics
Tasmania – 18%;
Queensland – 14%;
Western Australia – 13%;
New South Wales – 12%;
South Australia – 12%;
Victoria – 11%;
Northern Territory – 11%
Australian Capital Territory 7%

Have a fabulous end-of-year party but keep things above the line.

As the year draws to a close a timely reminder re. end-of-of year functions. Experience shows us that casual attitudes can lead to casual behaviour and this can include behaviour that is under the line. So have fun, but make sure that your behaviour isn’t captured as being inappropriate and putting yourself, your colleagues and your employer at risk.
http://www.hcamag.com/tv/how-to-play-it-safe-this-festive-season-146926.aspx
In many cases, work related functions or activities ARE considered part of the workplace and workplace behaviour standards apply.