Lessons from the Mavericks Sexual Harassment Scandal: Specific Steps Your Company Can Take to Avoid a #MeToo Situation
On Wednesday, Mavericks released a 43-page report containing the results of a seven-month investigation into the allegations of a pervasive culture of sexual harassment that permeated the organization over the past 20 years. The allegations first came to light in an article published by Sports Illustrated in February of this year. The investigation report largely substantiates many of the facts described in the article and provides many recommendations for changes within the Mavericks organization.
If your company is worried about the #MeToo movement (hint, every company should be) and is attempting to make sure that it eliminates sexual harassment among its employees, the recommendations from the Mavericks’ investigation report provide a good road map for doing so.
Ask yourself, is your company doing the following:
- Increasing the number of women through the organization including in leadership and supervisory positions.
- Improving formal harassment reporting process and creating paths for victims to report misconduct
- Evaluating, and holding accountable, all executives, managers, and supervisors on their efforts to eliminate harassment and improve diversity of all kinds throughout the organization
- Conducting anonymous workplace culture and sexual harassment climate surveys on regular basis to understand the culture of the organization and whether problems exist
- Establishing clear hierarchies and lines of decision-making authority within the organization
- Strengthening and expanding Human Resources, and implementing clear protocols and processes for evaluating and adjudicating workplace misconduct issues. This should include providing clear communication to employees on the anti-harassment policy and how to report harassment.
- Providing “prompt and proportionate” and “consistent” discipline across the organization when harassment or misconduct has been substantiated.
- Providing regular training for all employees on sexual harassment (including bystander intervention training), and special training directed at managers and supervisors. Leaders across the Company should participate in the training and take an active leadership role in providing trust and safety in the workplace.
- Adopting clear, transparent, office-wide processes for hiring, on-boarding, promotions, lateral transfers, performance valuations, salary increases, and discipline within the organization. This should include centralizing key employment functions within the Human Resources department.
- Collecting and using data to add value to the company and to identify weaknesses.
- Requiring that all leaders, managers, and supervisors engage in efforts to improve workplace culture and to ensure a diverse inclusive workplace.
BOTTOM LINE: Eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace requires commitment from the upper echelons with the company, creation of clear anti-harassment policies, effective training, and consistent enforcement of such policies. If your company is committed to making a change, but not sure where to begin, the above recommendations provide a good starting check list for making such changes.
Leiza Dolghih represents companies in business and employment litigation. She also frequently advises companies on all aspects of employment law from hiring to firing to internal and government investigations. She can be reached at Leiza.Dolghih@lewisbrisbois.com or (214) 722-7108 or via the form below.