What CHROs should know about the EEOC’s updated workplace harassment prevention recommendations

EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Illustration
The EEOC's updated harassment guidelines put a greater focus on leadership accountability.
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Good morning!

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released updated guidance for preventing harassment in federal workplaces. The guidelines provide useful recommendations for private-sector employers as well. 

The recommended practices are as follows:

– Take preventative measures.
– Clearly communicate what constitutes harassment and penalties.
– Consistently enforce them across all levels.

Companies that primarily focus on preventing potential lawsuits rather than proactively fostering an environment that doesn’t tolerate harassment are fighting a losing battle, says Stephen Paskoff, a former EEOC investigator and the CEO and founder of the workplace training firm Employment Learning Innovations. The EEOC recommends that employers disseminate harassment policies to all workers at the time of hire. 

“You want to prevent as much as you can and find out about stuff so people will feel comfortable coming to you. That way, you can work [issues] out sooner rather than later,” he says. Putting policies in place after bad behavior occurs is especially challenging because employers must reestablish trust. 

The EEOC also recommends that companies hold leadership to account, including the C-suite.

“You cannot have senior leaders who say this is important but then do exactly the opposite,” says Paskoff. “It sends a message that if you’re at a certain level, [policies] don’t apply.” 

Last, clarity is of utmost importance. Employers should provide explicit definitions of prohibited behaviors and ensure protection against retaliation for employees who bring attention to poor misconduct. The CEO should also echo such communication from HR. 

“The leader should be saying, as clearly as they can, if you want to work here and keep your job, there are certain things you can’t do,” says Paskoff.

Amber Burton

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Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

Though the labor market might be cooling, some industries are still hot. Sixty-five percent of jobs added in April were in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, specialized construction contractors, and food and drink services.

“Professional and business services, which include a wide range of jobs such as accountants, lawyers, and engineers, added 43,000 jobs, the biggest gain across all industries. Average hourly earnings for workers in the industry rose by $0.24 to $40.20. That’s 20% higher than what the average private-sector worker earned last month.” CNN

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Twitter has cut benefits and failed to award regularly scheduled stock bonuses after Elon Musk acquired the company. Insider  

- The share of the U.S. population that is working age is in decline, meaning labor shortages could continue well into the future. Axios

- Black and Hispanic workers drove the drop in the April unemployment rate. CNBC

- Remote work has changed public transit, which now has to service fewer commuters but at all hours of the day. Politico

- Merck will become one of the few companies with women in its top two jobs after appointing Helene von Roeder as CFO. Bloomberg


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Labor market lessons. The Fed’s decision to continue to raise interest rates will inevitably lead to a contraction in the labor market, says a former White House economic advisor. —Tristan Bove

Startups can’t WFH. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says the fully remote experiment is over and that it was a mistake for startups to move away from in-person collaboration. —Steve Mollman

Sick of no sick leave. Railroad unions have made headway in demanding paid sick leave but say that train operators are asking for too much in return. —Josh Funk

Mind the pay gap. Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $215 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the firm systematically underpaid women. —Max Abelson, Sridhar Natarajan

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