Chuck discusses preventative steps one can take in the workplace to combat sexual harassment.
Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the topics discussed in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Grant FINLEY: Welcome to Your Insurance Connection Podcast. I'm your host, Grant Finley, joined once again by President of CLH Insurance, Chuck Hembree. Chuck, how are you today?
Chuck HEMBREE: Good, Grant.
FINLEY: So, today's episode at least at the time of this recording is very top of mind. It's something that has been thrown into the national conversation and that is sexual harassment specifically. You look at Fox News, NBC, Weinstein, the film industry, the news, entertainment - everybody's kind of having a reckoning and we're all kind of having to deal with that and so it's certainly an appropriate topic of conversation for an insurance specific podcast. So, what can an organization to prevent themselves from being in this situation?
HEMBREE: Well, it's interesting. I recently read an article in the New York Times by a reporter there, Claire Cain Miller. She made some interesting statements. She said training is just totally inadequate. She said training helps us understand what sexual abuse is and what sexual harassment is and how to report, but it doesn't always tell us how to prevent. Then she put some things in place where there can be a discussion but I noticed that they closely align with many of the things that we work with our organizations in, even with child abuse and sexual abuse. Really, we're just talking about an age difference here. It's still the same concept - a position of power over another and it's abusive power. So when we think about it, insurance is the most expensive way to take care of a problem. Now, sometimes it's the only way and it's the most prudent way, but if we could risk manage everything away we wouldn't need insurance. Unfortunately, we can't do that. We can't risk manage away forest fires and wild fires like we're seeing in California. We can't risk manage away all storms. So insurance must be there, but some of these we can do. Number one, we can disrupt the situation. Now, that's not coming in being a super hero, confronting the abuser and rescuing the victim. That's more like step into the middle of it and not confronting the abuser but taking the person out of that situation so that abuse stops or is minimized. So we need to enable employees, managers, and other people to understand that and to do it. Talk with the victim. Don't isolate them. Help them work through immediately what that shock might be. Don't let them blame themselves. Sometimes we do contribute to our own situation, but still the abuser has to be penalized for their part in it too. Ask them, "I heard what that person said. Are you okay?" Get them to start to work through that problem. Number two, create a culture of civility. That sounds so easy and it's so difficult because we have let ourselves become kind of coarse and that's not all a male thing, that can be a female thing too and civility needs to be talked about, even if it's a more formalized - and maybe if it's slightly a facade within the workplace. Maybe we need to learn that lesson, but create a culture of civility so that we know what respectful behavior is, at least within the workplace, and management must be on board. If they're not, any of these situations we've talked about, any of these preventions are going to fail. Third, there needs to be some regular training. We regularly train to continuing ed on a lot of other things - we do need to have some regular training. That will help us address it and be more comfortable with conversation about a very awkward subject. My recommendation is that you never let all women conduct it, or all men. Otherwise there's no respect the two. Both are involved. Both are working on the situation. And then, encourage reporting. Make both the accused and the victim aware that this is not acceptable and we're going to follow it to its end. We don't know which side is correct - which side is wrong, but we're determined that we're going to follow it to the end. That puts both on notice that something's going to be done and if they're in the wrong, whether they're a fraudulent victim or an abuser, they're going to be found out. You need to have a policy in place. This is all empty if we just say in verbally. There has to be a policy in place. Something to point to - a guideline, a North star to follow and that also means management has to put some thought into it and by putting it in writing nothing but good can come out of that, unless it's just not followed. Then finally, document, document, document. That's just got to be there all the time. This is important and we document all the things that we say and observe.
FINLEY: Yeah, those are definitely some good tips and this is certainly a pretty impactful issue right now, so I certainly hope that this conversation is going to be useful and there's some real consequences in some of these things that we have to prevent and insure against, but it's always worth having the conversation. Unless you have anything else you'd like to add in our short window of a podcast, obviously we can't get to everything, but if there's anything else - otherwise, we'll shut it down there for today.
HEMBREE: No, I think that's got it, Grant. That begins the discussion but let's not let it end there. We talked about having a policy in place, if you'd like more information on that or would like a specimen policy, contact us and we'd be glad to share at least what we have.
FINLEY: Perfect. All right, well thanks everyone for listening. This is obviously a very crucial topic and like it, share it - let's keep having the conversation like Chuck said. We can't just talk about it and let the words die. Thanks for listening and we look forward to the next episode of Your Insurance Connection Podcast.
Your Insurance Connection podcast can be heard on iTunes and Stitcher or by visiting clhins.com/content/podcast. If you like what you’ve heard you can support this podcast by rating and/or sharing it on your social platforms. CLH Insurance is a “Trusted Choice”, independent agency servicing Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. For more information on CLH Insurance, visit clhins.com or call 636.391.0700 to speak with an agent. Until we connect again, thanks for listening.
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Show Notes - Where you can learn more about the people and ideas discussed in this episode.
Sexual Harassment Training Doesn't Work. But Some Things Do. - Claire Cain Miller (New York Times)