Preparing your business in the #MeToo era
Here are some suggestions from Scott Cooper and Brooke Iley, co-chairs of the labor and employment practice group at Blank Rome LLP, on preventing or confronting sexual harassment in the workplace. In today’s climate, they warn, no company can afford to ignore the issue.
• Communicate the culture change. Send a companywide memo, signed by the top leader in the organization, stating that a zero-tolerance policy will be strictly enforced and no one is above the law — not even family members or rainmakers.
• Review your policies and complaint procedures. Do your policies apply to your current business model? For example, if you have expanded to new locations or closed some facilities, do the reporting channels still make sense? Are your complaint procedures up to date and accessible?
• Prepare for an investigation. Create an investigatory protocol with help from your attorney or legal department. The type of investigation will vary depending on the level or form of complaint, so have these mapped out in advance, since an immediate response is essential. Investigations are complicated, and interviewers must be sophisticated. Your company’s defense revolves around conducting a thorough investigation.
• Have a PR plan. Much of the damage done in these cases stems from how the initial accusation is discussed on social media and reported in the press. Have a response plan; don’t just shoot from the hip if you’re asked to comment. Consider whether you will talk to the media and, if so, who your designated spokesperson will be. What will you do if