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Ask HR: Some insights on the #MeToo movement and harassment in the workplace

via USA Today: Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human-resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.

A year ago, high-profile allegations of sexual harassment set off the #MeToo movement. Since then, the shockwaves have disrupted workplaces across the country.

Employers and employees at workplaces from hotels to Hollywood continue to raise questions about this critical issue.

I can’t answer them all in this column. But I can share some insights and offer my answer to what I think is the most important question.

First, let me say that some progress has been made.

With the help of HR, many employers have stepped up to establish or clarify policies to make sure that everyone knows what the rules are and what to do if someone breaks those rules. About 94 percent of U.S. organizations now have anti-harassment policies in place­­.

We also have seen more workplaces offering anti-harassment training. They are conducting training in person and on a regular basis and making training mandatory.

At the same time work is being done to prevent future harassment, many current offenders are being shown the door. HR pros, CEOs and boards of directors have made difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions to stand up to bad actors, no matter their title and rank.

Additional action has also come from the top. More executives are strongly and publicly communicating that inappropriate behavior won’t be tolerated at their organizations. They are also changing their own behavior, with one-third of those polled in a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey saying they have changed their conduct at work to eliminate the perception of harassment behavior.

Why? Because executives see first-hand how sexual harassment negatively affects morale, productivity and employee turnover.

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