Organizational psychologist on how to confront workplace harassment
The recent sexual assault and harassment scandals have brought the role of bystander into sharper focus than ever, particularly in the sense of their not-so-innocent nature.
On the one hand, rumor-mongering isn’t healthy in any setting, yet too often it’s the victims who are shamed by gossip, while the perpetrators go on to harass — or worse — another day.
Organization psychologist Liane Davey offers these concrete steps on how to leave the sidelines and take action.
First, take allegations of misconduct seriously. No matter how surprising or far-fetched you perceive a rumor to be, it’s important not to dismiss it out of hand. Whether the rumor is about sexual harassment or some other form of untoward behavior, you need to be clear that you take the claim seriously…
If the person in question is passing along secondhand information, you should also be direct about the fact that you are unwilling to dismiss stories of abuse without investigating further. Be assertive and say, “That’s a serious allegation. I can’t ignore that comment.” Ask if the person passing on the information is willing to connect you with the victim.
Next, ask open-ended questions to clarify the accusation.Broad questions leave room for substantive issues to emerge without suggesting that you’re taking sides one way or the other. You can ask things like, “How did the situation play out?” The more specific the description you receive, the better…
Serious HR issues.Posted by Kate Rinsema