The Weinstein sexual harassment news serves as a terrifying example for many organizations. To an expert sexual harassment investigator, it looks like the perfect storm. He was the unquestioned leader of the company, he appears to have been engaged in this type of conduct for a log period of time and he has multiple alleged victims. His position poses a problem internally for anyone within the company to investigate. Further, it is extremely unlikely that many others in leadership and management were unaware of his actions. For anyone in HR leadership, this is a nightmare scenario.
In many instances like this and those involving employees and contractors at varied levels of the organization, HR management will take it upon themselves to investigate sexual harassment allegations. They use an HR employee to conduct interviews, gather evidence and ultimately make a determination if the company sexual harassment policy has been violated. this seems like a sound approach, but using an internal resource leaves the potential for bias and influence to direct the investigation and can easily lead to the wrong conclusion. Can you imagine being the poor HR manager who would have been tasked to investigate a complaint against Weinstein?
Just this past summer the EEOC convened a task force to examine sexual harassment in the workplace. That group determined that sexual harassment is a persistent problem for three main reasons: (1st) many employers do not do enough to curb sexual harassment nor do they send a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated; (2nd) companies often do not have a sufficient anti-harassment policy or, if they do, do not enforce it and (3rd) when a harassment matter arises, most employers focus on protecting the company from any potential litigation rather than harassment prevention.
Using an expert sexual harassment investigator rather than an employee only makes sense.
An independent sexual harassment investigator is not only guaranteed to be independent, they are simply going to do a better job by virtue of their training, experience and being dedicated to this type of work on a full time basis. If you or your company intends to take a real stance against sexual harassment, they should strongly consider calling our team of investigators to discuss how ASG can improve the process and help reduce the risks involved in this sensitive area.