#MeToo Moment: How Not Respond to Harassment in the Workplace

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Sports Illustrated this week published an in-depth report about an organization that was disparagingly  referred to as an Animal House - the Dallas Mavericks – where the company’s president is alleged to have sexually harassed multiple women, and a reporter for the team was arrested at work and later convicted of physically assaulting a girlfriend.  The details of the Dallas Mavericks workplace set out in the Sport Illustrated story is not unlike the seemingly endless number of stories of company cultures permeated with harassing and misogynistic behavior.  The cruxes of these stories often contain the same elements.

  • Members of management/executives impressing their power and authority upon female subordinates.
  • Inaccessible or incompetent HR professionals.
  • Culture that permits harassing or misogynistic behavior.
  • Absence of accountability.      

We often expect larger, seemingly more sophisticated companies to have better processes in place, but as we are seeing plastered across the media daily, that is often not the case.  And while the perception of successful, bright, billionaire owners knowing the law, and creating modern workplaces free of hostility and based on a meritocratic model exists, it certain was not the case with Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks.

THE COSTS OF POOR HR & LEGAL SUPPORT

Mark Cuban might be charismatic and personable and an enviable business mind, but by SI’s account the Maverick’s organization did not appreciate the importance of having competent and sophisticated HR.  Instead the head of HR was allegedly hired to protect the team’s president and had sent around emails opining on abortion and gay rights suffocating an open door concept that companies often try and promote. 

It was not just HR’s incompetence though.  Cuban’s response to the SI reporter should read like nails on a chalkboard to any HR professional or lawyer asking why the Mavericks continued to employee someone who was arrested at the workplace for assaulting his girlfriend:   

“I didn’t realize the impact that it would have on the workplace and on the women that worked here and how it sent a message to them that, if it was OK for Earl to do that, who knows what else is OK in the workplace? I missed that completely. I missed it completely.”

TIME TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE WORKPLACE CULTURE

The #MeToo movement is certainly an opportunity to change and improve organizational structure and workplace culture. It is not pretty to watch all of this unfolding in the media and society and it is shameful that it existed in the first place.  But this moment is a unique opportunity for HR professionals to assert themselves and really make an impact on their organizations.  

To discuss training options for your business or to have a review of your harassment policy, please contact Thompson Coe at any time.    

 
 
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