Recent sex scandals a lesson for managers
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Recent high profile sex scandals involving entertainer David Letterman and ESPN baseball analyst Steve Philips serve as an important reminder for business managers to ensure their companies have strong sexual harassment policies in place, according to a Southeastern Louisiana University management professor.
“The scandals have put a renewed spotlight on the often-delicate subject of relationships in the workplace,” said David C. Wyld, Southeastern’s Maurin Professor of Management. His article, “The Failings of Men: What Recent High-Profile Sex Scandals Can Teach All Managers,” was recently published in the online business newsletter “Bizcovering.”
“Organizations must have active sexual harassment training and policies in place,” Wyld said. “The importance of both simply cannot be overstated.”
Businesses should also be clear in their communications that no matter what the environment and who is involved, there will be zero tolerance of sexual harassment.
“Some have criticized CBS for not taking stronger action against David Letterman,” he said. “While one sports announcer or analyst can be eliminated, a ‘franchise’ personality such as Letterman is not so easily replaced. So, does your company have a ‘too big to fail’ standard, in effect a double standard? That’s something to consider.”
Wyld urges managers to look around their own organization and ask the simple question: ‘How well do you really know what’s going on?’
“Workplace romances are a reality today,” he said, “but relations between superiors and subordinates are a dicey proposition at best. Even in this day and age, it’s inadvisable. There is a thin and often blurry line between mutual consenting adults and sexual harassment. Managers should determine if this is an issue that the organization needs to seriously address. If not, the legal, financial and image implications can be costly and irreparable.”
Wyld added, "These recent high-profile cases have certainly proven to be great 'teachable moments' for class discussions on the importance not just of having proper human resource policies in place, but in having top executives lead by example in their personal conduct."