How could you design a bystander intervention in your workplace for sexual harassment?
As a student of both sociology and psychology, I have found myself to be a firm believer in symbolic interactions and subsequently the social learning theory. This is not to say that what we learn from our role models is set in stone. I believe there is a fluidity in the types of people we choose to emulate based upon exposure to new experiences. What appears to be somewhat difficult to establish within the examples of intervention relating to sexual harassment is the effectiveness over time.
Lets begin with the problem: sexual harassment. A survey of employees should signify the strengths and weaknesses within the workplace and therefore give us an opportunity to address behaviors that may be interpreted as acceptable norms but are sexually aggressive in nature. The stakeholders in the intervention of these behaviors include the company itself, as it would want to legally protect itself as well as maintain an efficient and confident workplace that enhances productivity but also includes all employees who desire a safe and productive work environment free of harassment. Inclusive of the stakeholders are the clients who benefit from productive employees providing goods or services.
The solution to the problem identified is to reduce workplace harassment.
To begin the intervention process I believe we can start by applying the social norms theory; we need to establish what behaviors are acceptable and further identify what behaviors are not acceptable. According to the cognitive learning model, these norms need to be acknowledged and acted upon by a role model. I would establish an outside expert to speak on this subject rather than a role model from within the company. This would eliminate the possibility of biases within the workplace. Intervention would apply the cognitive dissonance theory by requiring initial training using examples of sexual harassment that would conflict with the norms defined to cause cognitive dissonance.
The goals associated with this intervention would include reducing sexual harassment and increasing the number of stakeholders by holding all employees accountable for their behaviors. To accomplish this goal, positive behaviors are rewarded and acknowledged.
Following the initial training, I would include bi-weekly assessments and follow-up training. This would apply the selective exposure theory, which states that pre-existing views are hard to combat, therefore repeated exposure to acceptable norms is important. Follow-up assessments and training may also address the possibility of stress surrounding the subject of sexual harassment that may be present during the initial training which may result in a cognitive load disabling the commitment of new information into our individual paradigms. Follow up assessments would moreover be used to reinforce the positive behaviors that may arise from the initial training.
To ensure that this intervention did not need to be adjusted, surveys would need to be completed by employees semi-annually to ensure the costs of the intervention is outweighed by the benefits.
In reference to Kimmel, is it any wonder that someone studying the negative effects of masculinity, would indeed see the masculinity norms being adhered to and then revert to those norms? These norms are pushed upon us from birth and reinforced through media and social connections. Its not an excuse for his behavior, but he is fighting a lifetime of male programming.