Category: Ethics

                      Photo credit: Getty Images

Privacy is a concept very well confused in our culture today.  In an era where almost all of our electronic devices track our everyday move, our psychographics and socio-economic decisions give life to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to sell the next big thing, without our permission, and social media networks know where we go and what we do and with whom we do it with every minute of the day, other aspects of our lives, our trials and tribulations, and struggles which are simply part of the human condition such as unemployment, depression, disability and mental illness are considered private issues.  Well, are they a matter of privacy or are they more a matter of not wanting to deal with real agendas?

In an effort to respect employees’ privacy, many employers avoid employees’ mental health concerns.  However, like it or not, these issues have a tendency to make their way into the workplace. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 43.8 million adults in the United States experience mental illness in any given year.

Yes, there are Employment Laws and Fair Labor Standards, but in a world where yesterday’s hero is today’s villain and due to hopelessness and limited Emotional Intelligence, a majority fall in to co-dependant status, villains can easily pose as leaders and saviors.  So what is the real solution?

 

Even ignoring the lack of support and clear danger to the quality of life of the employee, purely calculating the costs it is clear that employers can’t afford to ignore mental health issues in the workplace.

 

Last Thursday, as the New York Times reported that Harvey Weinstein, the face of the entertainment company had been accused of sexually harassing women, both inside and outside of his company for over nearly three decades, it was yet another wake up call that mental disorder is not necessarily a silent killer. One might ask, how sexual harassment is a mental disorder. Well, according to the Wikipedia definitionSexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors”. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Finnish researchers have recently discovered that bullying could result in serious mental disorders. While victims of bullying are more likely to develop anxiety disorders, or already suffer from it, the bullies themselves were at higher risk for having or developing antisocial personality disorder. Therefore it is fair to say that sexual harassment has its roots in perceived power or lack thereof. And as opposed to popular belief, recognition of mental disorder in morally questionable individuals who we may not approve of such as Donald Trump, does not reinforce the negative stigmas associated mental illness, but rather adds to the negative stigmas.

 

The World Health Organization and the National Business Group on Health indicate that mental and behavioral health conditions have direct costs as much as $100 billion for employers. And when one factors in indirect costs, such as loss of productivity and the influx of disability claims, you are now faced with a major disaster.  

 

At first Weinstein had announced that he would take a leave of absence.  However, then he began fighting and contesting the allegations. It took three directors to resign, before the company board fired the founder on Sunday.

 

The trouble here is two-fold: Weinstein was a founder and top executive, and hence a decision-maker.    However what happens when we turn a blind eye to a culture gone wrong is that, as employees, the same infrastructure we hoped would be supported by our attempts at passivity, would turn around to disintegrate, but this time without notice.  

While as employers playing mental health professionals is not wise, providing clear boundary setting education to the entire employee population on mental health issues and the importance of clearly defined boundaries is expected.

An employer’s efforts to bring to light realities, helps destigmatize mental illness and allows others to come out of the shadows and seek treatment.   employees recognize its prevalence can help employees feel more comfortable acknowledging that they’re struggling in some way. 

 

While In addition to costs, employers have a legal obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to refrain from discriminating against individuals with mental illness, they are also obligated to abide by the same guidelines in treating employees vs. founders.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are two types of sexual harassment: a) quid pro quo and 2) hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can be physical and psychological in nature. It’s important to note that it is the aggregate of the incidents and not a single event that constitutes harassment and work hours and location don’t have a bearing on this definition.  

Langelan describes four different classes of harassers.

  • Predatory harasser This is a harasser who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. The goal of this harasser is to just to see how targets respond. No response could even lead to rape.
  • Dominance harasser is the most common type, and usually is for the purposes of an ego boost.  
  • Strategic or territorial harassers are those who harasss to remain dominant or keep privileges.
  • Street harasser: This is verbal and/or nonverbal behavior, with frequent appearance in public to embarrass.

 

 

Overall, the culture of an organization is defined by its leadership and if leadership does not walk the talk, then there is no atmosphere of trust or a moral code, and as a result, there are no boundaries or expectations that employees can rely on. In a 2012 study of male adolescent American football players, “the strongest predictor [of bullying] was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player’s life would approve of the bullying behavior”.

anigif_enhanced-15690-1394578851-1Who doesn’t like movies like Grease, Terms of Endearement, Tootsie, Clueless, or Men in Black? In fact these movies were the highest grossing movies in their category and are still the most highly rated clips in the media. However, the truth is that all these movies have one fact in common. They all make sexual harassment a joke.

Sexual harassment is, above all, a manifestation of power relations.  Treating sexual harassment is not a matter of one training course, but rather a fundamental shaking up of an individuals perceptions and attitudes about the target of their harassment.  For this reason,  sexual harassment training needs to be embodied within an overall communications training process supported by a ground-up process of inquiry, where the individual perpetrator can realize why they victimize. Without that piece of knowledge, the symptom rather than the actual disease is what gets treated and in fact even it doesn’t.  Because the individual perceives training as a punishment rather than an opportunity for growth.

The Legal Dictionary defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. According to the Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Regardless of the form of sexual harassment, it is illegal to purposefully harass someone at work in order to gain any type of sexual favor. However, many cases remain unreported because of fear of embarrassment or termination.k9563790

There are two types of sexual harassment, Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment. Quid Pro Quo Harassment occurs when a manager or supervisor withholds or awards job benefits on the basis of sexual favors. This includes work assignments, hiring, termination, promotions or demotions, positive or negative reviews, or any other job related benefit. On the other hand, if any rewards being withheld because the victim refuses to engage in the sexual favor, the company is would be considered guilty of sexual harassment. Both of these practices although very common in the work place, involve the risk of losing a job and with unemployment rate at a steady 7.4 percent, that isn’t something that most people consider a positive outlook.  Therefore, so many people keep quiet and remain victimized at their place of work.

 

So what is the root cause of sexual harassment, and why is it that it’s so common? From a social psychology perspective, the disconnect is in how people view hostility towards men and women. Research has indicated that stereotypes about socially appropriate gender roles for women and men are a driving factor, while the causes of sexual violence include socioeconomics, anger, power, sadism, sexual pleasure, psychopathology, ethical standards, laws, attitudes toward the victims and evolutionary pressures.

Traditional conceptualizations of sexism have focused almost entirely on overt hostility toward women. While historians, anthropologists, feminist scholars, and psychologists have previously suggested that sexism involves positive and negative evaluations of women.

Ambivalent sexism is a theoretical framework which posits that sexism has two sub-components: “hostile sexism” and “benevolent sexism”. Hostile sexism reflects overtly negative evaluations and stereotypes about a gender (e.g., the ideas that women are incompetent and inferior to men). Benevolent sexism represents evaluations of gender that may appear subjectively positive (subjective to the person who is evaluating), but are actually damaging to people and gender equity more broadly (e.g., the ideas that women need to be protected by men).

Besides Television programming, another cause and arena leading to the rise of sexual harassment is on-line and gaming. There is no shortage of examples of harassment online, a Pew Survey published this week is the first of its kind to drill down into the level and types of online harassment. The report, which polled almost 3,000 Internet users, brings to light that women for the most part have it worse off than men, while most people don’t realize it.  Although men are more likely to report they experience harassment on the Internet (44 percent of men compared to 37 percent of women), as a general rule, more women have been targeted on social media sites (73 percent women vs. 27% men). Women also tend to face the most severe types of harassment, like stalking and sexual harassment, while men generally face milder issues like name-calling and public embarrassment. Young women are the most likely to experience this severe targeting, with a quarter of women between the ages of 18 and 24 reporting having been stalked or sexually harassed online. Furthermore, the representation and coverage of the matter in the newspapers is certainly very biased. In He Said, She Said, Let’s Hear What the Data Say: Sexual Harassment in the Media, Courts, EEOC, and Social Science, Joni Hersch & Beverly Moran explore the coverage of sexual harassment in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and whether it is consistent with sexual harassment as it is reported in three other sources: a 1994 United States Merit Systems Protection Board (USMSPB) survey, charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from 2006-2010, and complaints filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPa) from 2010-2011. The review of the media coverage suggests that sexual harassment is covered in an intensely local and episodic manner, with little recognition that sexual harassment is a national phenomenon that could be connected to “a larger, social, economic or political trend.” (P. 778.) In comparing the media coverage and the data sets, the authors found that while the reporting of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal generally does not mislead regarding the demographics of sexual harassment claimants, particular stories may downplay the seriousness of the factual allegations made in complaints. The article suggests that differences between the media portrayal of sexual harassment and what can be found in the data may result from the media’s focus on litigation. The authors note that a focus on pre-litigation harassment claims may provide a fuller picture of sexual harassment. The authors end the article observing that the focus on litigation leads to reporting that tends to miss “a sense of what happens before litigation and what sexual harassment means to victims in terms of their economic, professional, and emotional lives.” (P. 781.)

One’s view of sexual harassment can be highly variable depending on their position as it relates. The victim, vs. the perpetrator, vs. the organization vs. the human resources don’t necessarily experience the matter the same nor do they have the same outcomes in mind although they should. Regardless as a work life advocate, we suggest a No Tolerance policy with specificity and clarity in describing anti-harassment policies and procedures. The following information from the EEOC will serve your organization well: http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/model_eeo_programs.cfm#possible

Management Monday: Managing Leaders

National Legion recently landed in a sticky situation. Despite being the country’s largest organization of Wartime Veterans, providing financial, social and emotional support to members of the United States Armed Forces, veterans and their dependants, the group likely faces serious changes in leadership thanks to lack of accountability. Sometimes known simply as “The Legion,” the organization is under fire due to allegations of preventable deaths. As a result, three executive leaders were put on administrative leave until further notice. This type of compromised leadership is not an isolated situation. Certainly executives need to be responsible for their own behavior, but boards and companies could also do more to help them stay accountable (Washington Post).

Free Press Pics

How to Hold Leaders Accountable:

  • Make expectations clear
  • Convey orders of priority to prevent confusion
  • Give continuous and consistent feedback
  • Avoid saying “you” when addressing an issue (it feels accusatory)
  • Provide leadership coaching to help leaders stay on track

When caught in the trap of poor decision making, it’s never easy to change old habits. In fact, it can be a slow and difficult process. But learning to make positive decisions is absolutely crucial. If ignored, the inability to rely on inner strength and intuition will undoubtedly negatively impact a leader’s work teams, family, friendships or marriage at some point. Accountability isn’t always easy. Emotional intelligence training is also a highly effective way to deal with this struggle in order to avoid landing in troubled waters. When correctly nurtured, leaders can do great things. Organizational leaders and executives are not super heroes, they are humans. In order for them to succeed, they must have a support system and guidance.

Photo Credit: Free Press Pics

 

Related Reads:

McDonalds Social Media Ethics Debate
How to Hold Yourself Accountable: Charlie Shrem
Dig Deeper to Avoid CEO Terminations
X Men Style Leadership & Strategic Planning

 

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal

Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.

 

 

Management Monday: Building Employee Engagement by Showing Appreciation

At first, building and engaging a team sounds ideal and simple. Winning sports teams like the Connecticut Huskies and America’s favorite superheroes, The Avengers, make it look so easy. The thought process typically starts with needing specific skills to help achieve goals. Unfortunately, the art of constructing and maintaining an effective team is anything but simple. From focusing too much on technical skills in the recruitment process, to under-investing in leadership and management, many teams are doomed before they really get started. Marvel’s hit television show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. highlights what a functional team can look like, and it all boils down to engaging each member of the group. Check out the employee engagement tips below, which are covered in the Five Languages for Engagement TM. Each individual often responds to different forms of communication in different ways, and being aware of different forms of communication can make a tremendous difference in their team’s engagement level.

Agents-of-Shield3-1024x576

The Five Languages for Engagement:

1. Verbal recognition – A great way to show appreciation is through verbal communication. This type of communication specifically looks to praise and verbal cues which indicate they are on the right track and have done well. You may not need this, but for them the lack of it, could mean disregard, and disapproval. Verbalize your gratitude and explain why that action was valuable to them, you and the business.

2. Sharing the load – This individual appreciates actual affirmation. This is an issue of showing not telling. Nothing has greater impact than the willingness of a leader or a coworker to lend a helping hand. While it is important to walk a fine line in the interest of your own work-life balance and job success, it is an absolute must to not be self-focused. Don’t wait for someone to ask, offer to lighten the load and show your concern for their needs and development in the organization.

3. Quality time – For this type of employee, days off and flex-time are very important. Occasionally offering days off, can really communicate your respect for work-life balance as well as your appreciation of the employee. Establishing a flex-time work schedule is a similar method. In fact, research has shown that many employees with family obligations work more effectively out of work. Furthermore, as the number of highly-educated women entering the workforce increases, there will be more demand for them to have flexibility in their hours (Wall Street Journal and WhiteHouse.gov).

4. Giving gifts – This type of individual enjoys gift receiving more than all others in feeling appreciated and valued. Taking the time to know whether your employee is interested in joining the gym and offering them a free gym membership, or getting a gift card to their favorite restaurant will speak to their needs.

5. Inviting input – For some individuals, recognition takes the form of achievement. A seat at the leadership table is no small thing. As a stake-holder in the company, this individual would like to know they are talented. Your willingness to both ask for their input and utilize their advice truly communicates their importance. In the same way, additional leadership responsibilities show trust in their capabilities, which walks hand in hand with their drive for achievement.

Anyone who watches episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that offering encouragement is an area of strength for team leader, Agent Coulson. He pushes for open communication and leads by example. He most certainly genuinely cares about his team, which is seen on multiple occasions. In particular, this is evident when he helps Skye by looking into high security files to help her find information about her mother. The point is that once a goal aligned team is recruited, understanding the communication and appreciation methods above is crucial to keeping the team operational. Engaged employees have the power to achieve great things, just like the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Photo Credit: Trend Wallpaper

Related Reads:
The Next Oprah Winfrey
Mad Employee Wildfire
Employee Engagement Test

Management Monday: Managing Personal Accountability

American_Hustle_2013_poster

American Hustle claimed 10 Academy Awards and seems to have won America’s love as an instant classic film. Even after weeks in the spotlight, leading actress, Jennifer Lawrence is still grabbing headlines for her edgy performance. And sure, it’s good entertainment. Unfortunately, the “hustle” mentality portrayed by the fictional characters in the movie isn’t foreign to today’s business world. There are varying meanings for the word hustle, some of which include “to force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specific direction” and “obtain by forceful action or persuasion.” American Hustle’s enticing trailers that say “but we all hustle to survive,” may be glamorous, but certainly one would hope that claim is untrue. But what if it’s not? Does everyone twist the truth now and then for selfish reasons or use authority to forcefully drive an outcome? It’s a scary situation for someone to stop and consider subconscious motives or how they are perceived by others. However, there can never be growth without personal accountability.

Even for an individual who believes they are highly emotionally intelligent, sometimes it’s good to pause and self-evaluate. Considering personal accountability can only strengthen relationships with friends, team members at work, family and so on. Check out the self assessment below. Answering the questions honestly can help determine areas that can be improved.

Relationships Accountability Self-Test

Do you communicate regularly and clearly with team members?

Do you take responsibility for your actions or blame others?

Do you think mostly positive thoughts about friends, co-workers and others?

Do you ever ask how you’re helping others, rather than how they’re helping you?

Do you remember to ask how others are doing?

Do you try to provide objective feedback rather than strategic advice?

Do you find you often raise your voice?

Do you think others view you as approachable, overbearing or distant?

Do you take time for positive and encouraging conversations?

Do you feel happy or discouraged about the majority of relationships in your life?

 

Sometimes people hustle those around them and don’t even realize it. Other times people are being hustled and aren’t aware it is the root of their distress. Either way, it is often lack of calm and effective communication skills or low emotional intelligence that puts stress on relationships. Fortunately, the big difficulty is acknowledging areas that need improvement. The next step is to make a daily effort to be conscious of personal feelings, personal actions and the feelings of others. And if that seems like an overwhelming venture, Center for Work Life is always available for professional training in these areas.

 

Related Reads:

Lions, and Tigers, and Confidence, oh my!
The Next Oprah Winfrey
Are You Charlie Shrem?
Patience with Co-Workers 

 

 

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal

 

Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.

 

 

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