Paradigm launches a new type of training on sexual harassment in the workplace


Hello, Broadsheet readers! This is Paige McGlauflin, replacing Emma. Rent the Runway is laying off workers after losing thousands of subscribers, Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver is suspended from the NBA for a year, and a company is changing the way employers approach sexual harassment training.

– New paradigm. Training on sexual harassment was a workplace since the end of the 20th century, yet more than 40% of women and 16% of men reported victim of workplace sexual harassment in 2018. That’s why Paradigm, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultancy, is launching an online course that aims to address anti-harassment training as a core DEI programmatic element to help preventing toxic cultures in the workplace, rather than as a superficial check of the box.

Existing training focuses too much on legal compliance and preventing illicit sexual behavior that could land the company in hot water, says Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO of Paradigm. This type of training can also be triggering for survivors of sexual assault.

Take the brake light frame, for example. Training officials basically use the analogy that a green light is behavior that is considered legal, a red light is illegal, and a yellow is behavior somewhere in between.

“Someone told me that in a training he attended, the host said something like, ‘You have to tell an inappropriate joke, so you better make it good.’ The idea being that if you tell a joke, it’s yellow. But if you start doing it often, it’s red,” says Emerson. When organizations handle anti-harassment training in such a casual way, it can send a damaging message to employees that the company does not take workplace harassment seriously and cares more about avoiding lawsuits than creating a positive and inclusive work environment for all employees.

“It doesn’t have to be,” said Emerson. “It doesn’t need to be packed with your phishing scam training. Instead, it should be alongside training focused on [designing] inclusive and equitable organizations, and it should be built by experts who know how to do it.

That doesn’t mean companies should ignore compliance—Paradigm’s training meets compliance requirements in all 50 states, and compliance logs are available for HR, DEI, and legal teams—but rather that they should go beyond compliance. beyond passive participation programs which require the strict legal minimum. Paradigm’s training takes a trauma-informed perspective, which means it assumes a person is more likely to have experienced trauma than not, and warns all participants at the outset that the material covered can bring up unpleasant emotions. The training also provides those who observe harassment with practical tools to address it as it occurs.

“What we want to see are people who can engage in behavior change. We don’t just want people to say, “Ah, that was interesting. We want them to say, “I know exactly what to do next in this situation,” says Emerson.

The training is led by DEI experts and a lawyer and combines expert videos, what-if scenarios, case studies, and more. Companies can combine the course with other training Paradigm has to offer, including those on alliance and microaggressions.

Paige McGlauflin
[email protected]

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