Archive for the ‘Diversity Training’ Category

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Does your company summer party invite sexual harassment?

Deena Pargman, Ph.D., founder and CEO of DB Pargman Consulting LLC, reveals Five Hot Summer Harassment Survival Strategies based on her many years of providing sensitivity and diversity training to highly valuable employees and executives.   After fourteen years of experience providing one-on-one and group diversity, sensitivity, and anti-harassment training, Dr. Pargman says “she’s seen it all” and can reveal some patterns that will help office workers enjoy a fun summer but also stay out of possible career jeopardizing trouble.

 

According to Dr. Pargman, the summer months can present a hot-bed of loose situations that lead to later harassment claims.  Relaxed schedules, departure from routine to accommodate summer vacation travel, summer parties and BBQ’s and blistering heat can all combine to create some hot summer moments that you might end up sweating over.  “With the heat outside comes a more relaxed environment that can lull people to be off their best professional game and seduce them into doing or saying things they might otherwise not if things weren’t so relaxed,” says Dr. Pargman.

 

As the nation’s leading provider of Harassment Prevention and Sensitivity Training for over fourteen years, Dr. Pargman warns:  “summertime heat waves can come back to burn you at a later date,” however, with a little forethought and self-awareness there is no reason to take all the fun out of summer.  They key, according to the experienced HR consultant, is to remember that all the “fun” be in accordance with your company policies and expectations of your office environment.”

 

Dr. Pargman offers the following Five Hot Summer Harassment Survival Strategies:

 

(1)           Keep Your Clothes On.  While summer heat may dictate relaxed dress codes outside the office, be careful not to get too relaxed with co-workers, regardless of where you are.  Just because there might be water-side bars and restaurants where flip-flops are the norm and shirts are optional, these would not be good choices for work functions or even non-work socializing with colleagues.

 

(2)           Pool Parties are For Kids.   Dr. Pargman advises clients to avoid hosting pool parties or other social events where bathing suits would be expected.  Do not plan summer swim parties for your office at the pool, the beach, the water park or any place where someone would be expected to wear a bathing suit.  At best, you are drawing a line between those who feel comfortable in a bathing suit and those that do not and chances are the “do not’s” outnumber the “do’s” – so you are just setting yourself up for awkwardness.  At worst, you are creating a sexually-charged environment and that can easily lead to inappropriate comments, jokes, or invitations.

 

(3)           Stay Inside Where It’s COOL.  It’s HOT outside – do everyone a favor and throw a summer party INSIDE!  Bowling, roller skating, indoor race tracks, rock climbing, arcades, whirly ball, art-galleries . . . are all comfortable air conditioned places where one would expect to keep their clothes on.

 

(4)           Enjoy Iced Tea & Lemonade.  Most summer company-parties-gone-wild stories that end in a complaint and Sensitivity Training involve alcohol.  The easiest solution is to skip the liquor at the company summer party.  If you do serve alcohol at a company event, hire a third party bar service or professional bar-tenders and empower them to cut off anyone who has had too much to drink.  Have many non-alcoholic options available.  Create a non-alcoholic signature drink for your event that fits with the theme to allow people the social and conversational benefits of the drink without the alcohol.

 

(5)           Communicate.  Remind your people that company policies including the sexual harassment and alcohol policy are in effect at all company events even if they are off-campus.  Use email, break room posters, pay stub memos and signage to remind everyone that even though you are going off campus, company policies still apply.

 

Enjoying a cold beer with a slice of lime pool side in your flip flops could be a great way to connect with your co-workers, but the go-to person who sees those who slip up, warns that three beers later the flip flops are too easily kicked aside, shirts come off and now you’ve got a really hot situation that is not appropriate for the workplace.  Dr. Pargman cautions, “today, it’s not that I see many complaints about gross misconduct, but what I do see is a few months later when someone is slighted, wronged, or injured in another incident, they will remember how many beers so-and-so had at the summer party, what jokes were made and who was wearing (or not wearing) what and that is when you will see the hot summer indiscretions come back to burn in the form of a complaint,” and that’s heat nobody needs.

 

DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the nation’s leading provider of One-on-One Executive and Sensitivity Training. When a sexual harassment or other complaint occurs involving a valuable employee or executive, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses for companies facing harassment and diversity sensitivity complaints. To help prevent harassment before it occurs, DB Pargman provides best in class preventative Group Anti-Harassment Training Programs.  Headquartered in Atlanta, DB Pargman Consulting LLC serves a national client base of medium to large size companies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

 

 

sexual harassment, anti-harassment, workplace complaint, valentine's day

Avoid Sexual Harassment on Valentine’s Day

Deena Pargman, Ph.D., founder and CEO of DB Pargman Consulting LLC, reveals Five Valentine’s Day Sexual Harassment Survival Strategies based on her many years of providing sensitivity and diversity training to highly valuable employees and executives.   After fourteen years of experience providing one-on-one and group diversity, sensitivity, and anti-harassment training, Dr. Pargman says “she’s seen it all” and can reveal some patterns that will help office workers enjoy a fun holiday but also stay out of possible career jeopardizing trouble.

According to Dr. Pargman, Valentine’s Day can be a fun day at the office and there is no reason to not enjoy it; but she cautions: “you’re still at work and just because the popular media is celebrating love, sex and romance does not mean your company anti-harassment policies are suspended.”

As the nation’s leading provider of Harassment Prevention and Sensitivity Training for over fourteen years, Dr. Pargman warns:  “a holiday day at the office when everyone is a little off their normal routine and rigor is a prime time for little jokes and slips that will come back to haunt you at a later date” however, with a little forethought and self-awareness “Valentine’s Day can be a fun break to the normal office routine.”  They key, according to the experienced HR consultant is to “remember that the fun stays within the normal policies and expectations of your office environment.”

Dr. Pargman offers the following Five Valentine’s Day Sexual Harassment Survival Strategies:

  1. Do Express Love for Your Products and Services.  If you are planning an event or activity for your group to mark the day, keep the focus of affection on your products or services rather than individual people.  Games or contests can draw attention to what your organization does that is loved by employees, customers and clients but stay clear of singling out people.
  2. Do Not Come to the Office Dressed for Dinner.   Dr. Pargman is not concerned how sexy or alluring your attire may be for your Valentine’s Day date that evening; however, she warns, even if you have to run quickly from the office to the restaurant after work – plan a change or let your date dress be governed by your office dress not the other way around.
  3. Do Not Give Individual Gifts at the Office.  Even if your intension is to express a non-romantic appreciation to a colleague or assistant and to “say thank you” – Valentine’s Day is the wrong time to do this.  The holiday is too loaded with romantic and sexual baggage; do not risk your innocent gesture being misconstrued.
  4. Do Give Chocolate for All.  Let the entire office (or your floor, or your team etc.) know you love working with them by brining chocolates or cookies for the entire team.
  5.  “Don’t Get Your Honey Where you Get Your Money.”  Finally, the overriding piece of advice is to keep the love life out of the office.  Admittedly, we spend a tremendous amount of time with co-workers and good relationships can find their origins at the office; however, if you are in one with someone you currently share a workplace with, then keep the flowers, amorous expressions, and lace out of the office.

Dr. Pargman warns “it’s not that a gift of chocolates or flowers to a co-worker will immediately trigger a Valentine’s Day blowup; however, a few months from now, when someone is slighted, wronged, or injured in another incident, they will remember that box of chocolates (whether given to them or someone else), how it made them feel, and what meaning they attached to it (even if you never in your wildest imagination intended it that way) and that is when you will see Valentine’s Day indiscretions come back to bite in the form of a complaint,” and that’s a pink slip from HR you do not want to get.

DB Pargman Valentines Day Break Room Poster >>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BREAK-ROOM POSTER

DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the nation’s leading provider of One-on-One Executive and Sensitivity Training. When a sexual harassment or other complaint occurs involving a valuable employee or executive, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses for companies facing harassment and diversity sensitivity complaints. To help prevent harassment before it occurs, DB Pargman provides best in class preventative Group Anti-Harassment Training Programs.  Headquartered in Atlanta, DB Pargman Consulting LLC serves a national client base of medium to large size companies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

http://www.dbpargman.com

Sexy Halloween, harassment, inappropriate workplace dress, dress code

Harassment Season starts with Sexy Halloween

As Halloween approaches, companies should be cautious of the season’s inevitable rise of harassment ghosts and goblins – they appear this time of year, every year – without fail – so be on the look out!

It’s all over … “Sexy Halloween” … good…bad…what does it mean…

I’ll skip that conversation but give a stern warning:  the ghosts and goblins of sexy Halloween can haunt you!  Here’s why: the complaints and lawsuits that will be filed against companies early next year have their roots in incidents that take place between Halloween and Christmas of this year . . . and it starts with Halloween.  Opening Day of Halloween to Christmas Harassment Season begins when the normal and customary company dress codes are put aside for Halloween dress-up (or often, dress-down).  This year’s theme for dress up:  Sexy Halloween is everywhere.

I’m not saying ‘sexy Halloween’ cannot be fun, but I am saying, it does not belong at the office or a party where you are likely to see your colleagues.

The holidays can and should be a fun time to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, connect with colleagues and express gratitude. However, in order to reduce costly complaints and lawsuits next year, be careful of sexy halloween.

Here are some tips to help you and your company get through the goblins:

>    Announce a Halloween dress-up policy and remind your people that Halloween costumes should also comply with the general level of professionalism associated with your regular dress code.
>    Check your Harassment Policy public reminder posters – are they still posted in the break rooms where you put them?
>    Send out email reminders multiple times during “Harassment Season” reminding people of your company’s Anti-Harassment policy and where they can find it.
>    Print a reminder message on the stub section of paychecks reminding employees to keep the company Anti-Harassment policy in mind with the joys of the holiday season.
>    If you are still shaking from fear of what happened at last year’s company party, consider limiting or eliminating alcohol this year.
>    Plan a group Harassment Prevention and Sensitivity Training Session with managers and executives right smack in the middle of the Harassment Season to remind managers and leadership of their responsibilities and the risks associated with the season.

As Halloween approaches, ‘spirits’ will be working overtime doing their part to make sure HR and legal departments are busy with expensive and distracting harassment complaints next year. Chances are the complaint will involve activities that will take place during the Harassment Season that opens with Halloween. However, with a few proactive steps, the beginning of the Harassment Season does not have to be so scary.

USDA Sensitivity Training

 

 

 

Cultural Sensitivity Training at the USDA has stirred considerable controversy and debate.  In two earlier posts I addressed (1) the importance of organizations such as the USDA in requiring sensitivity training programs of their staff, and (2) the justified cost of such programs as an important investment with a strong ROI.  Today I will address what I consider to the be appropriate content of such trainings.

 

My exposure to the content of the program offered at the USDA is limited to I saw on the JudicialWatch.org videos and my comments here are not intended to defend or criticize that trainer or program.  I simply offer here four elements of what I consider an effective and appropriate Sensitivity Training Program:

 

1.  Agenda Neutral.  We call our program “Sensitivity Training” and we prefer this description to “culture awareness” or the more widely used “diversity training”.   The core  principle of our programs is that being aware and sensitive to the varied backgrounds and experiences of your fellow co-workers, reports, and supervisors is an essential business skill.

Navigating interpersonal differences in the workplace is a job skill that our sensitivity training programs help you and your people develop and leverage for the benefit of the organization.

At the end of our programs, participants often say: “that is not what I expected.”  We do not focus on any particular protected category or background characteristic, rather we focus on sharpening the individual’s skills for reading how their speech and actions are receive by others.  We help people to be what we refer to as their “Best Professional Self”: aware, in tune, and in charge of their speech and behaviors, and making others feel respected and valued.

2.  Behaviors not Beliefs.  Our program is concerned with behaviors, not beliefs.  We do not attempt to impose a belief structure or agenda through our trainings other than acknowledging that your workplace and the economy with which it engages consists of people of varied backgrounds and experiences, and to thrive professionally in this environment requires honing particular skills and behaviors.  These skills can be learned and that is what we teach.   Believe what you like – but ACT according to the law, company policy and an understanding that it is in YOUR best interest to be aware and in tune with your clients and colleagues.

As an example, I was put to the test on this core element of our curriculum when I arrived at a One-on-One Executive Sensitivity Training session and met a client who introduced himself as an active and proud member of an organization with a well known self professed commitment to promoting discrimination.  Despite my personal opinions, the message of the training remained the same: believe what you want, but ACT according to law and the company’s anti-discrimination policies.

This is an extreme example, but it makes clear the point that DB Pargman Consulting LLC’s Sensitivity Training Programs focus on skill-building, not changing beliefs.

Participants leave our classroom with tangible and practical tools to add to their workplace tool box regarding listening, communicating, and conflict avoidance and management.   Attendee evaluations consistently mention this as what they are most grateful for: a non-ideological, skills-based program which helps them function better with their colleagues, clients, and customers.

3.  Conflict Management Tools.

There is a science to communicating around complicated or controversial topics.  This science is well developed and yields practical and easily learned tools for how to hold “difficult conversations.”  Our Programs offer attendees these skills and help them to be more comfortable addressing problems while they are still small, in the hopes they won’t get larger.  We teach how to prepare for a difficult conversation,  how to receive constructive comments, and how to negotiate when the most important goal is preservation or the enhancement of the working relationship.

4.  The Law and Policies.  Our Sensitivity Training Programs serve a legal compliance function.  In addition to contributing to an affirmative defense from future litigation by the mere fact that the training occurred (as discussed in Part 1 of this series),  a significant part of the curriculum involves explaining the law of the land and how and why these laws came into being.  This historical context helps participants understand the current rules of the game – regardless of their or our opinions about it.

Federal employment laws, local and state laws when relevant, and the organization’s policies and procedures are explained so expectations of proper workplace behaviors are set forth, and any issues, concerns or questions  can be addressed.  Often, simply providing an opportunity for discussion and clarification can be a major key to avoiding workplace harassment problems.

There are other differences between our programs and what one can see in the USDA videos relating to communication style of the trainer; however, the four elements above are the differences which speak to curriculum and content.  In short, our programs focus not on indoctrinating an agenda or opinion, but rather explaining  the relevant laws and policies and equipping attendees with skills to improve their workplace experience and productivity.

<== USDA Part 1 – Required Attendance

<== USDA Part 2 – Cost and ROI

 

About:
DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and it’s Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. The firm provides trainings through live one-to-one individual executive sessions, live class-room group sessions, live online virtual sessions, and follow-up ongoing executive coaching. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman has served a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies for over 13 years.  DB Pargman Consulting LLC is Federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder.

 

 

USDA Sensitivity TrainingThe USDA has been criticized for spending thousands of tax payer dollars on sensitivity training.  Pundits and talk show hosts have criticized the use of tax payer funds for the training, the requirement that all workers attend, and the content of the training.    In a prior post, I supported the idea that sensitivity training should be mandatory for all employees, managers, and executives. In this post I argue the cost of such training is justified and appropriate for both public and private sector organizations.

I am not familiar with the program that was delivered to the USDA, other than what I have seen in the JudicialWatch.org videos, and my purpose here is not to criticize or defend that particular program or trainer.  However, assuming a quality and effective program(and I will expand on what I believe constitutes a quality and effective program in my next post), sensitivity training is a critical investment in what is perhaps an organization’s most important asset – its people.  A workforce’s skills in navigating the interaction, synergy, and cooperation of fellow employees, customers and the public is as important to an organization’s success as the quality of its products or the strength of its technology.


To the extent that an organization invests in the strength of its technology, the quality of its products, and the effectiveness of its employees, workplace Sensitivity Skill development is a legitimate, and indeed, essential investment in the competence of its people.  
This is true for private and public companies, and government agencies alike – as the effectiveness of the organization is only as good as the effectiveness of its people.

When personnel issues come up, as they certainly will, the organization benefits when (a) its people are equipped to address small issues on their own and seek assistance within the proper organizational structure when needed; and (b) it can demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that the organization set out clear behavioral processes and guidelines, and then followed them.

Training is the most effective way of communicating to the workforce the company or organization’s values, policies, and procedures.  One of the benefits of sensitivity training is that it forces an organization to clearly explain those values and to highlight how and why certain policies and procedures are good for everyone in the workplace, and apply to everyone in the workplace.

These policies and procedures are designed to enhance workplace productivity and morale by creating an environment where people feel respected and valued. When people know the organization’s culture, they will bring issues to management’s attention early and be less likely to seek outside counsel.

Failing to create such an environment is expensive and disruptive to the organization.  The costs to the organization of responding to a claim once it is brought to outside attorneys is enormous, both in terms of lost management and executive time, lowered morale, and actual dollars outlaid.

Legal expenses associated with the preliminary pre-trial phases of a typical harassment claim can easily be $100,000 or more.  That’s just the preliminary legal fees, not the costs of trial or settlement.  Recent harassment and discrimination cases have returned verdicts ranging from $200,000 to multi-millions of dollars.

A small investment in training as a preventive, pro-active measure to guard against the extremely expensive and distracting cost of defending claims, is a wise investment of time and money.

 

I advocate sensitivity training because it delivers a positive return on the investment and makes business sense.  For example, Nextel conducted a quantitative analysis of its a diversity training program which all employees were required to attend and documented an ROI of 163% and determined a direct connection between a diversity training program and a benefit of over $3,000,000. (Diversity Management Series Part II: Measuring ROI for Diversity Management, SHRM).

Sensitivity training is about the success of the organization and it’s productivity.  For the private sector, sensitivity training is ultimately about helping a company be more productive and profitable.  For the public sector, sensitivity training is similarly justified as a means to increasing productivity and the effective and efficient use of tax payer dollars.

Returning to the USDA example, I want the people inspecting the meat that goes into my hamburger to be focused on the critically important task we taxpayers entrust them with, not the distractions and disruptions of harassment claims and intra-office drama.  Equipping workers, including federal employees at the USDA, with interpersonal workplace sensitivity skills is a legitimate and wise investment of an organization’s resources – be they corporate funds or taxpayer dollars.

<== BACK to USDA Part 1 – Required Attendance

NEXT to USDA Part 3 – Content ==>

About:
DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and it’s Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. The firm provides trainings through live one-to-one individual executive sessions, live class-room group sessions, live online virtual sessions, and follow-up ongoing executive coaching. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman has served a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies for over 13 years.  DB Pargman Consulting LLC is Federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder.

 

 

USDA Sensitivity Training

JudicialWatch.org released video of a sensitivity training session for USDA employees that has stirred up a fair bit of controversy.  Criticism centers around:

      • mandatory attendance for all employees,
      • cost, particularly since this training is paid for with taxpayer dollars
      • content and training methods that appear to be extreme, and representing a particular worldview
So what can we learn from the ruckus over the USDA training?  After 13 years of providing Sensitivity Training programs to private and public companies and numerous federal agencies, and as a Federal GSA Supply Contract Holder myself, I offer the following response:

Required attendance is the right call. It communicates a clear message of company values and expectations, and in helps the organization to avail itself of legal protections.  The costs of training are a small investment compared to the legal fees, lost management and executive time, and lowered morale that accompany harassment complaints.  Effective sensitivity training does not advance any particular world view but rather equips employees and management with the skills needed to thrive in the modern workplace.

In this post, I’ll address the first criticism regarding the mandatory nature of the program and will address concerns about cost and content in subsequent posts.Mandatory attendance is the right call for the organization.  Having all members of the workplace participate insures all contributors are aware of what the law and the organization expects of them and how to handle any concerns someone may have. Having all contributors attend helps to build an organization’s “affirmative defense” should litigation arise. Most importantly, when training is done properly, with a focus on BEHAVIORS and not beliefs, it helps to build a workplace environment where claims and litigation are less likely to arise, and where colleagues have a shared language with which to address the challenges present in all workplaces.

Sensitivity skills are not “optional,” rather they are part of the fundamental skill set necessary to successfully navigate the modern workplace.  

The fundamental skill set includes: (a)  an understanding and respect for the employment laws that govern the workplace; (b) understanding how our words and actions are received by others; (c) using conflict resolution methods to address small problems before they become larger; (d) how to utilize company procedures and seek assistance from HR when appropriate.

Effective organizations – those that can deliver on their mission (be that manufacturing cars, providing services, or regulating the safety of meat) set clear expectations of appropriate workplace standards and share a common language for communication.   Every office and organization has its own unique culture, norms, and vocabulary – in short, your office has “the way we do things.”

Think of various places you have worked and how different the environments were from one place to the next.  A joke that would be completely normal and accepted at X Co. might be completely out of place at Y Inc. because of the different cultures.  It is the responsibility of the organization’s leadership to establish and nurture a culture and language that supports its mission, reduces legal liability, and equips its workers to be as productive as possible.

Workplace cultures are established through leadership (or lack thereof) and training is the most direct and effective means of communicating the expectations and standards of the organization.

There is also the bottom line legal reality that federal employment laws afford certain protections against various harassment claims if the organization shows it has taken steps to educate its workforce and create an environment where harassment is not tolerated.  Mandatory training and the communication of clear behavioral expectations is perhaps the most effective way an organization can demonstrate it has taken these steps, and avail itself of the protections the law makes available.

In the next post I’ll address the costs related to mandatory training, and why it is a wise investment.

NEXT USDA Part 2 – Cost & ROI ==> 

About:
DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and it’s Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. The firm provides trainings through live one-to-one individual executive sessions, live class-room group sessions, live online virtual sessions, and follow-up ongoing executive coaching. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman has served a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies for over 13 years.  DB Pargman Consulting LLC is Federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder.

In an essay in Emory University’s campus magazine, President James Wagner made reference to the 3/5ths Compromise (the notion that slaves would count as 3/5 of a person for representation purposes ) as a positive example of opposing political parties finding a point of compromise.

While historically accurate – it was indeed an example of political compromise – the comment stirred controversy, protest, and accusations of racism.

What can we learn from President Wagner’s situation?  There are at lease two important Sensitivity Training lessons here:

First, you do not have to be a racist (or a chauvinist, or a homophobe or any other “ist” or “phobe”) to be tripped up by an insensitive comment.  In the world of public opinion, it is not what YOU were thinking or what YOU intended (no matter how innocent) but rather what others heard or what others might think.  And in the workplace, you do not have to be a university president to have your comments and writings subject to scrutiny; in your office, everyone is part of the court of public opinion.

Second, when a slip was made, President Wagner offered an unqualified, sincere and prompt apology.  His quickly responded with an apology to all whom he may have offended and to all who may have understood his writing to represent a condoning of slavery.  He did not make excuses, he did not back down from his use of this historical example as being illustrative of his point. He simply and clearly apologized for the impact of his words on others and for not anticipating that his example would need further clarification.

President Wagner’s response provides an important lesson: offer a quick, clear and sincere apology. He focused on the impact of his words, not his intent, and in so doing more easily enables others to receive his apology in the spirit it is offered: fully and without qualification. We should all take note:

mistakes happen, when they do, respond quickly, sincerely, with a focus on the perspective and feelings of those impacted by your words or actions.

About:
DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and it’s Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. The firm provides trainings through live one-to-one individual executive sessions, live class-room group sessions, live online virtual sessions, and follow-up ongoing executive coaching. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman has served a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies for over 13 years.  DB Pargman Consulting LLC is Federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder.

Chocolate . . . Cards . . . Roses . . . Cupid – aiming an arrow . . .

right through the heart of your career!  Must be February!  Time for Valentine’s Day – when little expressions of romance can lead to all sorts of office trouble!

Let’s be honest, with so much time spent at the office and so few other places where we spend significant amounts of time – the office is a prime place to meet that special person.  With “proximity” being one of the top factors in relationship formation, it’s no surprise that co-workers can become prime Valentine’s Day candidates.

However, if you value your job and your professional reputation, then here’s my recommendation for a successful office romantic relationship:

DON’T HAVE ONE.

Sex, dating, and/or romantic involvement DON’T mix well with career, job, and employment. If you are in a relationship at work or if you are attracted to someone at work, here are 5 Reasons to Keep Your Valentine Out of the Office. 

Office Romance Consideration #1:  It’s Not Likely to Work Out. 

Statistically speaking, if you “think he or she’s the one”, they probably will turn out not to be.  When it does not work out, now you have to live the rest of your time at that organization walking on eggshells waiting for that person to pull you into sexual harassment allegation hell.

Even if your heart was 100% innocently in love – in hindsight, how would you defend that the reason someone did or did not get a promotion, an assignment, or an opportunity had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you were sleeping with so and so.

Office Romance Consideration #2:  It May Work Out. 

Perhaps worse than it not working out would be if it did work out.  Now you are involved in a wonderful relationship.  So you’re going to keep it secret?  That’s no way to live.  If not, then how will anyone possibly respect any business decision that either one of you make that could affect the prospects, position, pay, or opportunity of the other?  “Well, she only got the position because . . . . ”  

Office Romance Consideration #3:  You May Have to Choose. 

Your job OR your relationship.  That’s where it will go if it works out – with one of you having to leave to avoid the situations anticipated above.  What if you both like your job and career?  How will that decision impact the budding relationship – who gets to stay, who has to go?

Office Romance Consideration #4:  You’re Giving Power Over Your Career to Someone Else. 
If the relationship spans office hierarchy – say an exec or manager with an admin or junior associate – you are handing the junior a “sexual harassment free-play card” that he or she will file away for however long until it’s needed.  Sounds so ugly – I’m not saying that he or she would actually play that card – I’m just saying, you’ve given someone that Ace (of hearts, of course) to hold on to.

Office Romance Consideration #5:  Go For It!  
Do you “live to work” or “work to live”?  If the proximity of work puts you in front of the Valentine of your destiny, and you are fully aware of the consequences discussed above, then love might just conquer all in the end!

However, if you go for that Inner-Office-Valentine, it is important to remember to play by the office rules.  Just because you are in a consensual relationship, doesn’t mean that the company’s Anti-Harassment policy and proper professionalism do not apply to you and your Valentine at the office and any work related function.  Public displays of affection and flirtation – even if welcomed within the consensual relationships, may make others uncomfortable and contribute to the harassment claim of a third party.

Now . . . who are those flowers from?

 

About:
DB Pargman Consulting LLC is the leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and it’s Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. The firm provides trainings through live one-to-one individual executive sessions, live class-room group sessions, live online virtual sessions, and follow-up ongoing executive coaching. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman has served a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies for over 13 years.  DB Pargman Consulting LLC is Federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder.

Happy HR Hangover!

It’s a brand new year and everyone is back in the office after the holidays, the vacations, and the parties.

Everyone is eager to get the focus back on work after the distractions of the holiday season.

Except . . . there is this picture floating around people’s phones – you know – it’s so and so with so and so, or maybe it’s a picture of so and so’s, uhhh… such and such …

What makes for a sitcom laugh (or even the focus of a great night out), can make for a devastatingly distracting nightmare at the office … all from one little text picture of one moment from the holidays.

Maybe it was “all in good fun” and maybe you think nobody was really hurt – it was just some people blowing off steam at the end of an intense year – the critical difference is that with today’s technology, that moment is preserved … forever… and it’s making its way around your office – and there is someone in your company who does not think it’s funny.

That little picture can become a distracting nightmare if left unaddressed so here are 5 Tips to help you get over the Holiday Hangover:

TIP #1:  Don’t Ignore It
.  With today’s social media and internet connectivity, that picture will never go away.  Even if people stop talking about it next week, it’s not going away.  In fact Facebook recently launched “Timeline” which allows someone to string together a history of photos or post from the beginning of time.  The photo will emerge from the archive in a few month or years when someone feels slighted, passed over, or hurt – either professionally or personally.  And the longer it sits in the archives, the stronger and more dangerous it gets.

TIP#2:  You’re On Notice.
  If you know about it, you are “on notice”.  You don’t have to wait for a “formal complaint” or for someone to step forward.  When you are made aware of a potential harassment issue, you must react quickly. Your response is “urgent and important”.  Even if nobody has filed a complaint or picked up the hotline – if you are in HR, legal, or in any management role and you are aware of it – your company is “on notice”.

TIP#3:  Take it Seriously.
  If someone comes to you with a complaint, even if you think “it’s not a deal” – take the process of receiving the complaint seriously and make sure the complainant understands the seriousness with which you are receiving the information.  Taking it seriously doesn’t necessarily mean firing someone or unleashing HR Defcon 1, but it does mean responding and taking some actions.

TIP#5:  Take Remedial Action. One on one sensitivity training will afford the subject of the complaint an opportunity to learn from the experience and grow professionally, whilegroup sensitivity training will establish (or reestablish) the expectations the organization has of it’s people.

TIP#4:  Act Quickly. 
 Once you are “on notice”, the clock is ticking – and down the road when a complaint is filed – you will be judged on how long you took after being on notice to respond.  Don’t dump this to the “deal with later pile” – take action NOW – this month and nip it in the bud before it has a chance to grow into something it doesn’t have to.

Remember, the standard is “Prompt and Remedial Action” and the clock is ticking.  Even if “it’s just a little picture following a few drinks at the holiday party” – ignored and unaddressed, it can come back to haunt you, the people in the picture and the entire organization larger and more distracting to the company than if you hit it quickly, right now, while everyone is still just a tad hung-over.

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