Preventing Harassment in the Workplace: The Importance of a Value-Based Culture


With all the painful announcements and disclosures of late, I cannot help but ask what can we do differently to avoid these abusive situations? What do we need to do to detoxify our organizations so that these unacceptable forms of harassment do not continue? 

Understanding how organizational culture is created, and how behavioral expectations are communicated and reinforced are key to helping us cultivate individual respect in the workplace. 

Culture and why it is important: Some Thoughts

  • Culture is the organization’s personality. It is what makes organizations unique… An organization’s culture can be positive, as well as negative.
  • An organization’s culture develops whether or not we take an active role in its development. Culture is influenced overtime by leaders and their behaviors — by the written and unwritten rules that govern how we act, and what we deem acceptable.
  • It is critical for all of us to be vigilant about what messages are being sent across our organizations — both implicitly and explicitly.
  • A strong positive culture flourishes with a clear set of ethical values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. In order for cultures to be strengthened, an organization’s values, policies, and processes need to be aligned with the highest level of integrity and these expectations need to be consistently reinforced.

Strengthening a Positive Culture:

  • According to organizational research, organizations with employees that are more engaged, do better financially, and are more productive. Employee engagement is influenced by cultures that are authentic and nurtured. A win-win for the organization and its people!
  • All employees, including leaders, need to be trained on the policies and understand how to implement them. Leaders need to be held accountable to ensure that the policies are followed at all levels and that their teams feel comfortable voicing any concerns.
  • It should not be good enough having amazing products and a healthy bank balance. Organizations’ leaders need to continue to have courage to make tough integrity-based decisions –to do the right thing. 
  • Leaders need to proactively inspire the culture of their organizations. No matter where we are in our organization’s hierarchy, each and every one of us is a leader! Each and every one of us can model ethical behavior and positively influence those around us.

Let us learn from all the painful lessons we are experiencing and let us focus on creating inclusive values-driven cultures at work and in our society. To achieve true inclusion, we need to develop cultures where all employees feel respected, safe, and connected. 

We need to leverage all our talents and visibly celebrate all the beautiful differences we bring to our work, to our lives, and to our world!

Please share your thoughts.


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