Our recent post about whether the workplace might be well served by applying the "Broken Windows Theory" to acts of harassment has, happily, brought forth a torrent of useful comments from readers who are HR professionals. Since we think that this discussion is important, we re-print four sample comments below.
“I am familiar with the "Broken Windows Theory" and agreed with it in the original context. I believe it applies to this context as well. If rules are malleable you will always see the limits continually pushed until there is some push back. In the case of workplace sexual harassment the greater concern is that something truly regrettable may happen. As if that wasn’t bad enough, then when the lawyers come calling they will be backing up a truck to your checkbook if you can’t demonstrate what you’ve consistently done to discourage such behavior! (emphasis added).”
“Without moralizing, I think that part of the problem is that we’re surrounded by sexual suggestiveness, from halftime at the Super Bowl, to the SI swimsuit issue, to shock jocks on the radio, to the increasingly "R-rated" fare on network television shows … the list goes on and on. We expect employees to turn all of this off the instant they step through the door of the workplace. It’s a daunting if not impossible task.”
“It is important to view this type of issue in the larger context of society and not limit it to the workplace. It is rather strange to expect a person to change his mindset when going to work, but of course it doesn’t make such behavior tolerable.”
"As with the broken window theory, only those organisations which apply it will reap the benefits. Since only a minority will apply zero tolerance, this field of work will be ripe for reaping for lawyers dealing with discrimination issues for generations to come. Cha ching! (emphasis added).