Last December, Time magazine gave its award for person of the year to the “the silence breakers,” commemorating a broad societal awakening about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace. As the #MeToo movement geared up, and as prominent men resigned or were fired, organizations rushed to create or update anti-harassment policies, complaint procedures, and training programs.
This approach may be misguided. Programs, policies, and training alone do not stop sexual harassment and abuse. My book Working Law — based on surveys of organizations, interviews with HR professionals, and content analyses of both human resources journals and federal court opinions — shows that sexual harassment policies and procedures can comfortably coexist in organizational cultures where women are regularly subjected to demeaning commentary, unwanted physical contact, and even threats or sexual assault. In other words, someone can be sexually harassed without recourse in an organization with plenty of rules on the books.Read More