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Conducting a one-time training for new employees is ineffective and is usually just window dressing by companies seeking protection from lawsuits, says Columbia University psychology professor Elissa Perry, Ph D, who has researched sexual harassment training programs. It's an abuse of power problem," says James Campbell Quick, Ph D, a professor of leadership and management at the University of Texas at Arlington."It's not just about providing one training and you're done. If they are only doing it for legal reasons, then they don't care if it works." Decades of research has documented the extensive damage suffered by victims of sexual harassment, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, job turnover and post-traumatic stress. Quick has researched sexual harassment for more than two decades and co-authored a recent article that examined advances in research and the changing dynamics of sexual harassment.
They also were less likely to view coercion of a subordinate as sexual harassment than were men or women who didn't take the training.A successful training program might result in an increase in sexual harassment complaints in the short term as more employees feel empowered to report misconduct, but an elevated level of complaints for an extended period may indicate the training hasn't helped, Perry says.Some ineffective training programs may even backfire and increase negative views or stereotypes, according to research.As the list of high-profile men accused of sexual harassment or assault grows, a cultural shift demanding increased accountability for workplace sexual harassment may be occurring in the public eye.But behind closed doors, many companies and institutions have done little to address sexual harassment, which has contributed to hostile work environments not only for victims of sexual harassment but also for other employees who are merely bystanders.Employees should learn about company policies and laws relating to sexual harassment, procedures for filing complaints, and expectations of behavior for all employees, says Chris Kilmartin, Ph D, a psychologist and emeritus psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington.Bystander intervention training also may help increase a sense of accountability, where employees are expected to speak up and even file their own complaints when they witness sexual harassment involving another employee.Sixty percent of American women voters said they have experienced sexual harassment, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.Almost 70 percent of the women who experienced harassment said it occurred at work, more than any other setting.Almost half of those complaints were based on gender, exceeding race (34 percent) or disability (19 percent).The EEOC estimates that less than 14 percent of individuals experiencing harassment ever file a formal complaint.