Culture is the daily expression of an organization’s specific, well-known performance expectations and its implied standards of behavior, which outlines what is rewarded, what is condoned, what is intentionally ignored, and what is penalized, reports Reuters.
Harassment is increasing through digital channels
A recent survey data of 800 professionals conducted by AllVoices, a technology platform that enables employees to anonymously report bias, discrimination, or sexual harassment to their company’s leadership, indicated harassment at work remains prevalent, and in fact, is occurring more often through digital communications channels.
According to the survey, 44% of respondents experienced harassment at work, ranging from personal harassment and bullying, discriminatory harassment and bias, to online harassment and cyber-bullying. Of the 44%, more than one-third of respondents (38%) experienced harassment remotely through email, video conferencing, chat apps, or by phone.
Luckily, there are new enterprise-wide technology platforms around employee communication coming online, providing invaluable tools for creating a transparent work culture. These platforms can provide an easy way for an organization’s leaders to communicate with their employees while also being “phenomenal” accountability boosters.
Indeed, platforms used for incident-reporting by employees in this manner creates increased transparency when compared to the use of hotlines, which when companies use them, are the most common tool for employees to anonymously reporting incidents. Yet, according to the AllVoices survey, there is still a ways to go.
Enhancing transparency & trust
The use of technology platforms for incident-reporting also enhances psychological safety, which is the belief that an employee can respectfully disagree, raise concerns, ask questions, and be themselves without the fear or worry that they will be embarrassed, singled out, or somehow penalized or marginalized for doing so.
Feeling comfortable enough to speak up and voice both ideas and concerns without fear of retaliation, attack, or shaming is key for a healthy workplace, says Claire Schmidt, founder and CEO at AllVoices.
Specifically relating to the legal industry, when legal employers have outlined reporting procedures, there are strong indications that they are not used because of workplace cultures that lack psychological safety or fear of retaliation.
The Women Lawyers On Guard’s Still Broken survey, which is the most recent data available on harassment within the legal industry, made this issue clear. “Most people do not report sexual harassment and very significant barriers to reporting still exist because of fear of job loss and other negative career repercussions, and concerns about safety,” the report noted.
To improve psychological safety and prevent harassment, leaders of all organizations need to reinforce and drive accountability for their organization’s culture, emphasizing that management will not tolerate harassment of any kind within their teams. Also, employers need to expand and increase accessibility of incident-reporting mechanisms to further promote needed transparency.
To improve incident-reporting, respondents recommended anonymity, ease of use, and leadership involvement. Having an online tech platform that enables incident-reporting in addition to a place where employees can seek support and guidance is a great method for enabling trust and psychological safety, as well as to demonstrate employers’ commitment to a culture that does not tolerate any form of harassment.
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