The other day we posted: “Don’t Flirt – It Causes Sexual Harassment.” The post was about a news report that the King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, conducted a survey and found that 80% of the Saudi population “blame the scourge of sexual harassment plaguing the country on the ‘deliberate flirtatious behaviour’ of women.”
The same article noted that the World Economic Forum global gender gap map gives the country a “zero” on the measure of women’s political empowerment.
Some reader comments:
Patty McIntosh-Mize, an HR consultant from Atlanta:
“Yes, Richard — that is why we must cover our hair and our bodies. There are magical mind-control rays that come off women that force men to have sexual urges they might otherwise be able to suppress … and over which they have no control. Won’t someone please think of the poor, oppressed Arab men?”
Jon Green, a NYC area lawyer:
“Saudi society is only about 1000 years behind the times and it does not look like it is making any effort to catch up. As I recall, Saudi women must wear coverings/veils in public so as to not distract men. And the Saudis are our supposed to be our ally.”
Marc Brenman, a college instructor and diversity professional from Olympia, WA:
“Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Not just women are oppressed, but someone with a name like “Cohen” probably wouldn’t be allowed in the country at all. One can usefully wonder why such a country is a close ally of the US, since it represents pretty much none of our social and political beliefs.”
Finally, Jack Bucalo, an HR executive in Washington, Illinois, stated that “Rather than responding to the provocative discussion subject, I would like to offer a proven way to greatly reduced sexual harassment incidents in your company.” His proven way follows:
“1. Catalog the company expense that can be tied to such litigation and/or settlements over the past two years for the entire company and each of its major organizations.
2. Develop a Sexual Harassment Workshop that can be presented to all organizations, in support of your company policy on the subject, starting with those that have had the worst track record in your company. The workshop can be conducted in 2 hours or so by Legal Counsel and an appropriate HR manager, and its subject matter should include all the practical do’s and dont’s based on legal precedent. End the workshop by having a Q & A session so that all questions on the subject are answered.
3. Change your financial policy to read that all such expenses will be borne by the organization involved; not by the Corporate or Division Legal department.
4. Direct that the General or Division Manager of any organization that has had a large amount of such expense will have their bonuses and merit increases reduced by an appropriate percentage amount.
5. For all organizations with a bad track record, have the General or Division Manager make a trip to the corporate headquarters where he or she will meet with the CEO and the Chief Counsel to “discuss” the matter.
When these steps are taken, sexual harassment incidents will be greatly reduced and your female employees will be much happier knowing that their top management has taken some affirmative action in their regard.”
Although he is right — his comment does not address the article — nonetheless we would be interested in hearing success stories relating to the use of this simple 5-step program — will it eliminate the seemingly intractable world-wide scourge of workplace sexual harassment?