Harassment Trainings: A Content Analysis
51 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 18 Oct 2018
Date Written: December 7, 2017
Harassment training programs are ubiquitous, yet researchers have not systematically examined their content or how they have changed over time. This study begins to fill that gap through a content analysis of 74 current and historical harassment trainings spanning a period of 1980 to 2016. Results suggest that trainings are heavily influenced by early content developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. Changes in training content over time are like software updates, periodically adding new features without fundamentally altering the nature of the training. Consequently, contemporary trainings include large quantities of tangential legal information and overemphasize sexual conduct at the expense of other forms of harassment. They also tend to suggest that relatively trivial slights could give rise to harassment-related liability. Overall, trainings tend to gloss over the discrimination-based origins and purpose of harassment law, which might otherwise serve as a moral anchor for the trainings. I discuss the costs and benefits of this approach, and offer some ideas for future directions in training.
Keywords: harassment, trainings, Title VII, discrimination, compliance, sexual harassment
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