Harassment in the Workplace: Leadership Impact and the Role of the Compliance and Ethics Practitioner


Harassment is not a new issue in the workplace, nor in society as a whole, but it has hit our radar recently in a very powerful manner, in what many have referred to as a reckoning. What was once a very individual experience, one that was private and sometimes accompanied by shame and fear, has shifted into a very public discussion around leadership accountability and corporate transparency. This has placed a prominent spotlight on workplace culture and the role of the compliance and ethics practitioner. This article unpacks the various elements of workplace harassment, the impact on culture, and breakdown in trust. The discussion addresses the legacy approach to training, why and how that approach needs to change, and why training alone will not transform behavior. Recommendations are offered, including the need to invest in and develop leaders with the critical skills of active listening, values-based decision-making, and approachability. Further guidance provides practical steps compliance and ethics practitioners can take to build a more collaborative, cohesive strategy for fostering a safe, ethical workplace culture. The underlying theme establishes that compliance is an outcome of a healthy culture.

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