Is your Dealership truly harassment free?
There have been many editorials in the recent months on the topic of harassment, and it considering the various opinions, we should also consider our own organizations and the statistics in Canada.
The Canadian government recently allocated $900 million in compensation to settle class action suits lodged on behalf of survivors of sexual harassment in the military- that is a staggering g amount of money and a sad statement on the pervasiveness of the issue. This is not exclusively a military issue- the courts have also agreed there is sufficient evidence to hear suits involving airlines, law enforcement and many others.
Regardless of the media, or personal opinion on the recent movements that appear, it seems that regardless of what a corporation says about appropriate conduct, the line between professional and personal just doesn't seem to exist for some people, and thus the news keeps coming. There does not appear to be a collective sigh of relief that all the publicity is going to make bad behaviour stop, maybe that is partly due to the subtle nature of much of the behaviour.
This is the area that dealerships can focus on to improve their own culture, and ensure that a harassment free workplace truly exists. The sly comments, lewd shop talks and silly jokes are all areas that people feel reluctant to say they are uncomfortable with, and certainly feel less inclined to report, yet you are still responsible for ensuring that your staff are not suffering through these situations.
We have all been taught that "no means no" when it comes to conduct outside of the workplace but does it always apply at work, when you aren't watching? Too many employees try to "shrug it off" as no big deal and then try to "keep their head down" and get their work done, but how long will that continue before you start to lose valuable people?
The longer we dismiss the subtleties and do not challenge the comments, the more harmless the commentators will think it is. This means that all the training in the world isn't going to sink in if they don't think it applies to their poor behaviour. By-stander training and having a truly open door are great ways to start the shift to a dealership that is truly free from harassment.
In 2019, an Ontario survey found that at lest 1/2 of the province's university and college students have experienced some form of sexual harassment- and that is based on only those that were forthcoming enough to report. These are our up and coming professionals and we want them to build their careers with us, that will only happen if they can recognize us as a great place to work- and innuendo and bad behaviour by co-workers won't help the cause.