Training is one of the foundational building blocks of a company’s day to day operation. On the job training and orientation can get an employee up to speed on carrying out the practical functions of their position. Chances are, though, your employees will need more than the knowledge of how to do what you hired them to do. There’s a good chance that your employees will need further training to adhere to federal and state guidelines for how to behave in the workplace. There’s more to being a good worker than just knowing how to carry out the direct duties of the job, you also need to know the laws and policies that factor into those daily responsibilities and the company’s culture at large. For that, you need compliance training.
Compliance training is an important element to any corporation’s meta-operation, which is a company’s operations about their operations, or the policies that oversee their policies. Meta operation covers not only the entity’s internal mores and rules, but also includes the wider laws and expectations imposed on the entity from external sources (such as state and federal government). New employee compliance training is the process of teaching workers those meta policies and procedures, and how to comply with corporate laws (hence the name). In this article we’ll go over some of the most common kinds of compliance training and why they matter to your business.
The most common kind of corporate education is sexual harassment training. Sexual harassment covers a wide range of activities and interactions, but center on subjecting an employee to unwanted and unethical sexual advances or discrimination. Any person of any sex can be responsible for perpetrating violations, and the target can similarly be of any sex. As you can see here, reported sexual harassment claims are rising. There are several misconceptions about sexual harassment that compliance training can help clear up. For example, most employees don’t understand what does and doesn’t constitute a sexual harassment violation in the workplace. While different states have different specifics, there are a few generalities that can be relied on. For example, flirting or asking a fellow worker on a date might not be a violation, while constantly pressing them for a date after being rejected might.
There are three kinds of sexual harassment recognized by governing bodies: physical, verbal, and visual. A visual violation constitutes any action that exposes someone to nudity or sexual content without their consent. This can include showing someone else your genitals or pornography. Even with consent, these actions are almost universally forbidden in a corporate setting. A verbal violation is exposing someone to sexual speech that makes them uncomfortable, including propositioning them or commenting on their physical characteristics in a sexual manner. Finally, the most serious kind of violation is physical, which involves making unwanted sexual contact with someone else. This can involve touching or slapping another employee’s behind, groping them, or hugging them without consent. Understanding these kinds of sexual harassment will help employees recognize and respond to them appropriately.
Diversity training is the second most common kind of corporate education, and one of the most common violations in the workplace. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to observe that people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, expressions and walks of life. Diversity training aims to inform workers how to be respectful of that variety. Basic respect should be the norm, but the data on the topic doesn’t show that to be the case. Marginalized demographics, particularly non-white racial demographics and LGBT+ employees, face discrimination within the workplace at an alarming rate. Diversity education can help to mitigate that discrimination and foster a sense of camaraderie and inclusion. Unlike other kinds of corporate education, diversity covers an extremely wide range of categories and how to avoid offending or further marginalizing socially vulnerable employees and how to respect their differences.
Unfortunately, there are some issues surrounding diversity education. As you can see at https://hbr.org/2019/07/does-diversity-training-work-the-way-its-supposed-to, there is a gap between a workforce learning or understanding the principles of diversity education and actually changing behavior, particularly among the white and/or men demographics. Researchers believe this is because corporate power is disproportionately dispersed among both of those demographics, and especially in the combined ‘white man’ demographic. The data suggests that white male workers tend to treat diversity education as something to get out of the way and carry on as usual. This is disheartening to say the least! However, it must be noted that these findings are far from universal, and that many white male workers do respond to diversity education. Future diversity education might benefit from working to decentralize the idea of white men being the default and everyone else being deviations from that default.