To Be Effective, Sexual Harassment Training At Work Must Be Seen As Genuine

Nov 9, 2017

A wave of sexual harassment scandals nationwide has prompted a re-examination of harassment training in the workplace.

Vicki Magley, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, said there’s actually been very little research on the effectiveness of sexual harassment training on the job. But, she told Marketplace, of the reports that exist -- a key finding is that training must be seen as being genuine.

"Harassment training can be effective if it is done within an organizational culture that is perceived by employees as being ethical," she said.

A 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggested that shifting to “civility training” may be more effective. 

"When you enter into it prepared to be told that you’ve been naughty, you go in cynical," said Magley. "When you enter into  a training scenario where you’re being told explicitly that we’re going to give you ideas on how to create community, on how to bond with one another in productive, cohesive, collaborative kinds of ways -- it’s the mindset."

The EEOC report acknowledges that much of the workplace sexual harassment training over the last 30 years has not worked.