HOW TO AVOID BEEN SEXUALLY HARASSED IN SCHOOL AND ANYWHERE

by ALAO JOHNSON                              LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE


The Harvey Weinstein scandal has lots of
people in powerful places running scared for
three important reasons:
There's heightened awareness and outrage
right now.
People (ie. the media), are actively on the
lookout for offenders.
Many are making up for the past when they,
"didn't speak out."
As a woman, this movement makes me hopeful
the future will be different for my two teenage
daughters.
However, as a former HR executive, I also have
compassion and want to help anyone out there
who is concerned about how to move forward.
Now that the floodgates have opened around the
subject of sexual harassment, it doesn't matter
who you are or what industry you are in. When it
comes to your career, this quote is more
important than ever:
"Credibility takes a lifetime to
build, and one second to lose."
There are 1000s of professionals out there right
now that are one Tweet or blog post away from
having their careers ruined. Do they deserve it?
Yes. However, I also believe there are millions
more out there who haven't made a mistake -
yet. But, without the right coaching, could
become the next Harvey Weinstein and ruin their
lives. These are the people I want to help.
As former HR executive and a career coach, let
me tell you what happens when you get accused
of sexual harassment and you AREN'T famous...
Over the years, I've had over a dozen people
come to me after losing their jobs due to a
sexual harassment claim. Men AND women. This
is what you can expect:
Immediate termination of your employment to
avoid a lawsuit against the company.
"Not eligible for rehire," is all they say on a
reference check when potential new
employers call to verify your previous
employment.
There's no clear way to answer, "Why did you
leave your last job?" because when you say
there were claims of sexual harassment,
nobody will hire you.
Total humiliation when you explain why you
lost your job to your significant other, kids,
friends and extended family.
Clearly, it's just not worth the risk. But, what's
the answer?
Avoiding working with the opposite sex isn't an
option.
Instead, building your skills to work more
effectively with the other gender. I realize this
subject is uncomfortable. But, growth only occurs
when you step outside your comfort zone.
People just need some information and guidance
to help them feel confident in their abilities to
navigate this. So, let me offer some.
So, let's start with some advice from a guy who
is doing it right.
I spoke to a friend. He's in Private Equity, a field
that is notorious for sexual harassment. He is
someone I trust and respect because I've seen
first-hand how professional he is with men and
women. He's the role model of how to treat all
colleagues. I love collaborating with him because
of it.
I asked my friend, "What advice were you given
or can give to help men and women avoid
getting fired for sexual harassment?" He gave me
four great tips:
1) Don't s!@# where you eat. Keep business and
pleasure separate. Just because you work a lot
of hours, doesn't entitle you to make the office
your dating resource.
2) Do you want to be recognized for achievement
or aesthetic? Treat all colleagues the same way.
Focus on their work, not their looks.
3) Turn off the Neanderthal and get down to
study hall. Discover your coworkers' gifts and
you, them, and the business will succeed.
4) Flip it to test it. Use one of Donald Rumsfeld's
rules is "when thinking about how to proceed
with something, visualize yourself as your own
CEO/boss and think how they might advise you."
Now, flip that around and visualize your coworker
as your boss. Now, see if you still want to move
forward with your behavior.
When in doubt, use "The Rock" as your mentor.
This last one reminds me of an amazing article I
read recently by Anne Victoria Clark. It's called
"The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don't Want
To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment."
It's funny and informative. In short, she says in
situations where you feel uncomfortable with a
professional and are unsure what to do, imagine
they are The Rock and you'll find your answer.
For example, if a female colleague asks you to
meet for coffee to "pick your brain" but she's a
pretty blonde, just like your ex, imagine her as
The Rock and you'll realize you should focus in
on her skills and figuring out how to make her
your ally instead of your date.
As I always tell clients, these days, every job is
temporary and your network is your net
worth. Helping everyone in their careers is good
for your career.
Lastly, these two boundaries matter most.
There are two areas you can focus on to ensure
you aren't seen as a sexual predator: space and
speech.
Let's start with space.
Years ago, in my early twenties, I worked at a
company where a young guy would go around
and start giving out free shoulder massages. His
name was Richard. All the women found it
uncomfortable. They were all talking about it
behind his back. They would tell Richard they
didn't want one, but he'd still try. He meant it as
kindness, and couldn't accept that others would
see it as anything else but that. Sadly, this was a
start-up and they didn't have HR. Nothing got
done about his behavior. However, this is the
exact kind of thing that down the line gets a
person in trouble. Especially, when the person
assumes leadership responsibility. I'm sure once
accused Richard's reaction would be like many
others, "But, I've always done this and nobody
complained before." Yet, that won't save him. In
the business setting, be mindful of personal
space, or you could get accused.
Next, let's talk speech. Specifically, humor.
The say everyone believes they have taste and a
sense of humor. However, making jokes which
make fun of a coworker is playing with fire. I
heard recently about a guy that almost got fired
after introducing a young female associate of his
firm by saying, "I've got pants older than her," as
well as other comments around her age and
gender. He thought he was being funny, and
likely has been making jokes like that for years.
But, all it takes is one person to finally stand up
to someone with this type of humor for a sexual
harassment claim to be put forth.
Aristotle had a list of virtues.
He said they all fell in between two
extremes. The virtue of wittiness fell between
boorishness (no sense of humor) and buffoonery
(trying too hard to make people laugh). Most
sexual predators are buffoons. When it doubt,
leave it out. You don't need to be funny, you need
to be good at your job. Hold the humor and
focus on saying things of value and substance.
Remember, "Your reputation is what people say
about you when you leave the room".
Learning how to work with coworkers without the
risk of getting accused of sexual harassment is
not hard. It just requires tapping into your
emotional intelligence. And, it has the incredible
upside of helping you in your career by building
your reputation as trusted peer and advisor.
The good news is if you read this, then you
clearly care enough about this to get it right.
Awareness is the first and one of the biggest
steps to building your skills in this area.
P.S. - If you found this helpful, consider paying it
forward.
Sharing this post on our social media feeds can
help it get to all those who are worried about this
happening to them. With education comes
growth. You'll be helping millions of men and
women by spreading this knowledge

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