I was struck recently after reading an article in my local newspaper. Lawmakers had passed a resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment-prevention training for themselves and their employees.
What really stood out was the training would only need to be completed every two years. This strikes me as a check-the-box approach. You know what I mean – no meaningful impact accomplished, but one can say the work is complete.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the reasoning. But, while this kind of training is important for any organization, it’s simply not enough.
The kind of change needed to tackle this issue head-on – one facing our states, colleges/universities and businesses – needs to be cultural. This kind of shift is not accomplished with once-every-other-year “training.”
Yes, training is important. So are compliance measures. We’re very good at these things as a society. But when it comes to abuse of power, which is at the foundation of sexual harassment and harassment of any kind, we need to do more.
We need a cultural change – a significant shift in behavior, attitude and leadership. Only that kind of shift will root out the problem – deal with it at its very core. It starts at the top, but can’t happen without everyone being involved.
Unfortunately, Fortune 500 CEOs aren’t having this kind of public dialogue. I think that’s wrong. This issue is far too important to not aggressively address.
We need to create work environments where everyone can bring his or her best to work … where we value our differences … where we know diversity is part of our formula for winning … where leaders empower and build trust, not abuse power or erode trust.
This is why at American Family Insurance, we’ve accelerated our focus on diversity and inclusion in the past 18 months. We are not checking the box. It’s too important for that. We’re digging deeper – together – to make sure how we treat each other is just as important as what we deliver.
Ultimately … our crucial conversations, our work on this … will be worth it. Together we accomplish so much more. And together, we’ll create an inclusive culture for others to model.