Recent surveys show that men, in particular those in management, are uncomfortable mentoring women or even working alone with a woman. The most recent survey is from LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey who partnered with #MentorHer
I’ve facilitated sexual harassment training workshops for over 25 years, to thousands of people in hundreds of businesses and organizations. I’ve realized it is time to ask provocative questions in a facilitated dialogue between women and men to talk about what needs to be said about sexual harassment.
My new thinking is to group the training participants by women and men, given the makeup of the participants, with agreement from my clients. Both groups will separately discuss a series of questions followed by a facilitated dialogue together. Here are some questions I’m considering.
Questions about being uncomfortable:
- As a manager, to what extent am I comfortable in supervising and working with colleagues of the other sex?
- To what extent am I comfortable working alone with a person of the other sex as a mentor or in giving feedback?
- What uncertainties do I have about working together?
- What am I afraid of?
Questions about what needs to be said:
- For the women’s group: As women, what do we want men to know about how we want to be treated? What behaviors need to stop? Start? Continue?
- For the men’s group: As men, what do we want women to know about how we want to be treated? What behaviors need to stop? Start? Continue?
- What are my questions about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in working together?
- What needs to be said that is not being said about sexual harassment in our workplace?
We don’t want workplaces where men and women are afraid to mentor each other, or be together in their work situations, eating lunch or at business social events. We must surface the underlying issues that prevent normal, healthy and respectful interactions between women and men. This may be one way by inviting a deeper dialogue among people in a safe and nonjudgmental learning environment.
I welcome your ideas of what has been effective for you in promoting a respectful work place and your thoughts on my dialogue questions. Let me know what you think of my potential new approach.