“It matters what the Leaders do and don’t do.”
Time and again, I have seen that a safe workplace is not just created with awareness but it is the people and culture that plays a crucial role, especially that of the leaders. No doubt that culture of an organisation is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion. Culture definitely starts at the top and flows to the bottom.
Over the years of interacting, visiting various corporates across industries and handling many harassment cases. I have met many leaders, and HR heads hesitate to call out or speak up against perpetrators and colleagues. Behaviours such as below get tolerated time and again
– Usage of abusive language
– Inappropriate behaviour like staring
– Double meaning jokes
– Discrimination based on gender, origin, skin colour etc.
This results in a toxic environment that flows across the organisation.
- So as leaders, what can be done? How do we handle such sensitive matters and question our co-workers?
- Question the specific behaviour and not the person.
- Call it out immediately in a one-to-one discussion
- Inform the HR and the grievance committee about the incident and let them do the sensitisation
- Empower the team members and employees to speak up
The last point is something that is powerful and I have shared in many of my talks and I see this helping organisations time and again. As leaders, during your townhall address or Site visits or during skip level meetings, try addressing your employees on the below:
– Talk about the company culture and instances that can be reported
– Talk about your sexual harassment committee & grievance redressal committee. you will be surprised that many can’t recall or won’t know where to report.
– Empower your employees to speak up and report any harassment behaviour
– Extend your support
Every time a leader addresses their team, I have seen a spike in harassment cases getting reported from the employees(victims).
30% to 40% of employees do undergo some form of harassment and hardly 4% to 5% speak about it.
‘It definitely matters what the Leaders do and don’t do.’