Ep 100 – Frank Discussions About Sexual Harassment at Work & the Election

sexual harassment, workplace, election, kate bischoff, workology

The Internet exploded last week on the topic of sexual misconduct and harassment for Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump. According to a 2008 study by the Association of Women in Action, 54% of the respondents reported to have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. One thing is for certain, sexual harassment in the workplace is real, it’s common and it’s time for business leaders and the public to address and call for change.

Episode 100: How Prevalent is Sexual Harassment at Work & What We Can Do About It? with Kate Bischoff (@k8bischhrlaw)

Today’s podcast guest is Kate Bischoff. She dives into the recent comments and actions that have come to light by Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. In this episode, we go beyond the hype, video recordings and conversation and take a look at not just Trump’s actions but the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Kate defines sexual harassment as any conduct or comment of a sexual nature in the workplace as well as quid pro quo where you an employees is asked to do something in order to receive something in return. Quid pro quo is often sexual in nature. Our guest provides a unique assessment into both of the Trump’s actions. Kate is a HR practitioner and consultant who also has extensive experience in sexual harassment cases as she is also a lawyer and employment law attorney.

Going beyond the reported video by Donald, J. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. was asked about women who complained of sexual harassment in all-male environments like men’s only golf clubs.

“In the clubhouse, guys just want to be guys, they want to joke about stuff,” he said.

He went on to say that if women feel harassed by the comments men want to make, they should just leave their jobs.

“I’m of the mindset, and I’ll get in trouble… If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, you don’t belong in the workforce,” he said. “You should go maybe teach Kindergarten. I think it’s a respectable position. You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like you know.” He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “like you know.”

This, my friends is what sexual harassment and a hostile work environment looks like. 

Kate believes that the comments by both Trumps whether the quote listed above or the videotape from our Republican Presidential Nominee are considered sexual harassment and both their words create a hostile work environment. Both Kate and I don’t envy the head of human resources at the Trump company. It’s not the world’s most popular or coveted job. Of the 4,000 lawsuits directed at Trump and his organization, 20 involve claims specifically involve sexual harassment. The cases involving women are among about 130 employment cases in total with some dating back to the 1980s.

Common Misconceptions About Workplace Sexual Harassment

In the survey I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, 79% of respondents also reported to having experienced workplace sexual harassment at management and senior management positions. Sexual harassment isn’t always male to female but can also be female to female, female to male and male to male.

Business and HR leaders first and foremost should have a sexual and workplace harassment policy that facilitates open communication between management and employees. Kate says that the policy should be easy to read by employees meaning less legal speak and more verbiage that is easy to understand by all individuals. Create a process for employees to bring forth their concerns to members within the organization. Train and communicate your sexual harassment workplace policy to managers. Kate mentions that requirements for sexual harassment training for managers and management are different. California, specifically has different requirements for managers. She suggests you research state-specific requirements and consider working with an attorney.

The best way to limit sexual harassment or any type of workplace harassment is for organizations to be open to every walk of life from all protected classes. Kate suggests that organizations should build inclusive communities and that prohibit comments from these kind of things at their work. Company leadership should be having discussions like the one between Kate and I on the podcast today.

What Should You Do If You Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

If you have experienced, sexual harassment or are being sexual harassed at work, Kate recommends talking to your organizational leaders and working with HR if you are comfortable. If not, she suggests working with federal agencies like the EEOC. They were created and establish not just to report claims of sexual harassment but to help provide resources and support to organizations.

But what happens with the person who is sexual harassing employees is your CEO? Given the recent news that’s come to light by Trump, it’s a possibly especially for his organization. Kate suggests talking candidly with your CEO and that HR leaders are also obligated to report sexual harassment claims that involve the CEO to the company’s board of directors.

While the media reports regarding both Trump’s sexual harassing actions and comments are offensive. It’s the reality for a large workplace population, and for that reason I’m glad they have come to light to facilitate discussion on the topic and result in more awareness, conversations and organizational change. Take a listen to the podcast as we dive into more topics including how social media is changing workplace harassment and our HR investigations.

Connect with Kate Bischoff on LinkedIn.



*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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