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EEOC and ELI Share “A Meeting of the Minds” on Harassment

Here are some quotes from a document I read last week:
“Workplace harassment remains a persistent problem.” … ““There is a compelling business case for stopping and preventing harassment” … “It starts at the top… leadership and accountability are critical” … “Training must change.”
As I kept reading I thought, those ideas are familiar—in fact they sound like what we’ve said in our ELI position papers and marketing brochures. But these are all concepts expressed in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Report of the Co-Chairs of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. The report, released on June 20th, summarizes more than a year of investigation into how to prevent workplace harassment.
We did not write the Study, but are gratified that our work was featured in three places. One of our articles was cited as a source, another was quoted directly, and the Study reported that many agencies found our Civil Treatment® Training for the Federal Government was “helping in reducing the incidents of harassment in their agencies.”
Page after page, we felt a sense of alignment reading the Report, as the points so closely matched what we’ve been teaching and writing about for years.
In the executive summary, for example, the Task Force says “Because our focus was on prevention, we did not confine ourselves to the legal definition of workplace harassment, but rather included examination of conduct and behaviors which might not be ‘legally actionable,’ but left unchecked, may set the stage for unlawful harassment.”
The theme that organizations must pay attention to the full range of unwelcome behaviors, not just those that are outright illegal, is the focus of much of much of my own communication and the subject of several chapters in my newest book, Civility Rules! You cannot prevent or reduce uncivil behaviors—or minimize their impact—if all you do is pay attention to the behaviors that cross or even closely approach that illegal threshold.
I would, however, go a step further than the Report by stating that if harassment and what’s referred to as “civility” training are to be addressed most effectively they should not, as suggested, be treated as separate efforts. All behavioral issues are closely intertwined; the best and most efficient way to use training to help create sustainable change is to connect and address behaviors that span uncivil to illegal through the lenses of organizational values, culture and the law.
Finally, everything in the report supports ELI’s stance that civility, or what we call Civil Treatment ®is not a business nicety … it is a business necessity.
Let me end with the message that concludes the EEOC report’s executive summary and represents ELI’s position as well: “Harassment in the workplace will not stop on its own – it’s on all of us to be part of the fight to stop workplace harassment.” We couldn’t agree more.
Want to learn more about the EEOC report? Click here to visit our EEOC Study of Harassment in the Workplace resource center.

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