Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why I Hate the Law

Do you know what I find frustrating?  Laws.  I find them frustrating because the effort to follow the law often neglects to bring resolution to the problem it’s intended to resolve.  My clients often engage me for this very reason.  They want to bring real change, but simply keeping with the law doesn’t get them there. 

Take for example AB1825, a law enacted in 2007 requiring Sexual Harassment training.  While businesses dutifully follow it, thereby demonstrating legal compliance, there has been no discernable drop in the prevalence of sexual harassment claims in the decade since its inception.  The EEOC study report on these findings was released this summer.  They also found that policies to address discrimination and harassment, though less studied, have similarly poor results. 

Sadly, none of this information surprises me.  Why?  Because AB1825 gave employers a single answer to a multi-faceted problem.  Much like many other laws, the outcomes were an afterthought.  And, once this ‘solution’ is given, businesses no longer have the same responsibility to figure it out for themselves. 

Of even greater concern, the law helps insulate the businesses from legal action.  As a result, businesses who are not inclined to improve, have even less reason for doing so.  The EEOC found evidence of this.  In fact, some of the most pernicious forms of discrimination and harassment were largely ignored by organizations as they were done at the hands of a “superstar”.  Rather than risk the loss of this rainmaker, businesses found ways to work around the problem, often by transferring victims or taking other steps to mollify them. 

So, what can a business owner or HR do?  Here is my multi-faceted suggestion that you can use to bring change to your workplace.

Clarify the Problem
As each business environment is as unique as the people working in it, begin by identifying the people or circumstances that are at the center of complaints.  Then ask yourself, What would need to be different for the problems to stop?  What could make the problems resurface?  As you ask these questions, you begin to hone in on what needs to be done.
Get Creative
Begin by brainstorming – with a small team of thoughtful individuals.  Initial ideas may look like those tried in the past, write them down but keep going and explore alternative ideas.  Create the goal of generating 10 new ideas.  Doing so forces out-of-the-box thinking and is likely to bring you novel and workable ideas. 
Test the Success
Enact the best solutions and see what happens.  Does change come?  Are there unexpected consequences?  Continue to work between creativity and testing out solutions until you find one that yields desired results without dire consequences.
Share Outcomes
The business world needs more ideas – so share what works.  Blog, speak or Post your ideas below!

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