Clients don’t always listen to your pearls of wisdom. Most of the time – but not always. It’s their business, after all.
A few years ago I had a potential client about three years into building a successful start-up. But he pushed back hard against my admonition that with his growing business he should have an anti-sexual harassment policy in place – as well as an employee manual, periodic training for managers and employees, an EEO officer, and – eventually – an HR person or department.
It is to him that I dedicate this post — or perhaps more importantly, to his employees.
I hope they are all doing well.
Anyway, the following are some of the things he told me as to why my advice was unnecessary, burdensome and old school.
- “My employees are just out of college and obviously learned right and wrong there. They’re college grads, for heaven sakes! If I have such a policy it will mean to them that I don’t trust them to do the right thing, which is not the message I want to give. Let them be adults and they will act like adults.” Whew — talk about putting your head in the sand.
- “If I have such a policy, I will then need an employee manual, and all the other unprofitable accoutrements of an old school business. Why waste money on problems that don’t exist?” Read my blog.
- “My employees are collegial – and I like that. Makes them more productive. Some water cooler jokes, or “locker room banter,” is healthy and just a chance for them to release some stress. No one will take offense, or misinterpret what may simply be a bad, off-color joke.” Guess he doesn’t really know people or the workplace environment. Or the law.
- “Why have a policy when all of my employees know that I don’t like my employees sexually harassing other employees.” From the top down, I always advise, one should be a model of compliance and anti-harassment behavior. But sometimes that is not enough.
- “If I have such a policy then I will be held to it of there is a claim made – better to have no policy and then if, God forbid, I get a claim, I can always argue that I am not liable since there was no sexual harassment policy that was breached.” Better to have at least a little understanding of sexual harassment law.
Takeaway: Why have an anti-sexual harassment policy? It will never happen to you, of course.
Bonus: I just read in the paper this quote from another benighted employer: “If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten.”
Bonus takeaway: You gotta stop watching Mad Men and learn a little about employment law (and decency) if you want to make America great again, Junior.