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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.

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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