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Creating Positive Workplace Cultures

The prevention of unlawful and discriminatory conduct in the workplace should be a top priority for all Vermont employers. Whenever possible, businesses, organizations, and public agencies should invest resources in providing a welcoming and equitable workplace for all of their current (and potential future) employees. The larger the workforce is, the larger the budget should be for implementation of a comprehensive harassment prevention program. There are many ways that even the smallest employers can demonstrate the leadership needed to foster a strong anti-harassment workplace culture.

Many of the recommendations here are based on the work of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, June 2016.

A strong-anti harassment workplace culture is one in which:

  • Harassment is not tolerated
  • Respect and civility are promoted
  • The above values are reflected and modeled by behavior, decisions, and priorities of people at the top of the organization

What can workplace leaders do to foster strong anti-harassment cultures?

  • Commit resources to implementing diversity and inclusion strategies, including training and education programs, on a consistent and long-term basis.
  • Conduct workplace assessments or worker climate surveys to evaluate areas of improvement.
  • Develop and carry out a comprehensive harassment prevention program.
  • Hold themselves and other leaders accountable for actively preventing all forms of harassment and for appropriately responding to complaints or concerns from workers.
  • Train supervisors and managers about identifying and responding to problematic behavior that could lead to harassment, their legal responsibilities is they receive a complaint, and how to actively avoid retaliation against workers complaining about harassment.
  • Communicate a policy of no tolerance for harassment and model that policy in their conduct and demeanor towards all employees.
  • Oversee fair, thorough, and prompt investigations and disciplinary decisions concerning harassment.
  • Ensure processes that treat all employees consistently and fairly during complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions.

A comprehensive harassment prevention program includes the following elements:

  • Leadership, commitment, and accountability
  • Practices and systems that support workers in fostering positive workplace environments for all
  • Clearly communicated and reinforced harassment prevention policies
  • Universal anti-harassment training, which can include bystander intervention and communication skills for preventing harassment
  • Workplace civility training that establishes healthy workplace norms and promotes respectful communication

Resources for strong workplace anti-harassment culture

Data from the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace: