Simple Action Steps Leaders Can Do to Prevent Harassment

Leaders need simple action steps to prevent harassment.

With the upsurge in harassment awareness, I’m hearing from business owners who know they need to do some training and awareness, but aren’t sure what that should be. They don’t want to fear paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements and legal fees. Nor do they want the public relations nightmare of a ruined company reputation.

The answer for stressed out managers and business owners is to have prevention training which addresses the root CAUSES of harassment rather than only harassment BEHAVIOR.


Harassment is reactionary behavior. Therefore, training must address the cause! I know that sounds obvious, but have you ever endured video training or policy review lectures which dealt with the underlying causes of the harassment behavior? I believe one of the many reasons harassment is so prevalent is that training or other attempts to quell harassment have only dealt with answering what is and what isn’t harassment. Training is caught up in asking questions. “How many times does offensive behavior have to occur?” “What severity level makes us more liable?” “Who is responsible for reporting and when?”

While these questions should be answered, these answers should NOT be a business owner’s first line of defense. Continuing to do what you have done before and hasn’t worked is simply foolish. It will be detrimental. Stand up and start a new trend of training aimed at underlying causes of unacceptable behavior to prevent harassment.

What YOU can do RIGHT NOW!

Moving Image Prevention Training always begins by addressing these two areas:

Power Dynamics

  • How many levels of hierarchy are there in your business?
  • Who wields the most power? Are they abusing it?
  • How comfortable is your workforce with approaching those in power?

Company Culture

  • How do your employees describe their company culture?
  • What is the work/office environment like? (If you have an “open office,” you need to check out my blog, “Club or Office? How the open office contributes to sexual harassment confusion.”)
  • Employee relationships
  • Are you working from home and rarely share the same physical space?
  • Do you meet more with clients and customers than you do fellow employees?
  • What opportunities are there for building relationships and how often do they occur?
  • Do frontline employees or assistants feel they have good relationships with their superiors?

Once you have a baseline, you can begin to craft training specific to the needs of your workforce.

Action Steps:

Power Dynamics

  1. Train managers how to lessen the effects of power dynamics in their conversations. There are many body language and verbal techniques which are simple to learn and implement.
  2. Create “power free zones” or meetings designed to dissolve the power influence. Oftentimes, it is best to facilitate these types of meetings with an expert from the outside.

Company Culture

  1. Train employees on body language which encourages collaboration, inclusion and open dialogue.
  2. Use an outside behavior expert to address how nonverbal behavior can be perceived as sexual harassment.
  3. Make simple environmental changes to create a less-harassment-friendly environment. An example would be creating more space in high traffic areas or giving more counter/work space per employee.
  4. Teach Bystander Intervention to encourage the culture to change over time- ending harassment as a core company value. Watch this.

5. Encourage Disruption to stop harassment before it starts. What is disruption?d Watch this.

The good news is managers and business owners have choices for training to prevent harassment.

You do not have to create training from scratch if you don’t want to. The cost of any training is going to be a valuable return on your investment and will certainly not cost anywhere near the price tag for an incident going to litigation!

Moving Image Consulting provides training to prevent harassment. We work with you to provide customized training for real results! Call 630-234-1392 for a consultation.