For Association Professionals:

3 Steps to Stop Harassment at Your Meetings

 

One of the challenges that has a significant impact on your ability to meet your meeting attendance and diversity goals is harassment, particularly sexual or gender-based harassment. Surprised by that claim? Consider that women rarely report such harassment, particularly when they have no idea how, or to whom, to report it. Instead, women avoid harassment by limiting their participation at meetings, including no longer attending meetings where they have been subjected to unwanted behavior. Add to this the likelihood that harassment based on race/ethnicity, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation also occur at meetings, and this invisible challenge grows even bigger. Harassment leaves targets feeling unsafe and unwelcome, and can poison even the best meeting experience for your attendees.

There is a straightforward way to overcome this challenge.

1. PREPARE

Establish a policy 

Establish a policy that specifically addresses meeting harassment, and prepare to enforce it effectively and consistently. You can find a model policy and procedures guide here. 

Use the contact us form for more information on how we can help you tailor a policy to fit your needs, enroll key stakeholders in the decision to adopt and enforce the policy, and train staff in effective ways to address harassment.

Publicize Your Policy

Having an anti-harassment policy in place is a first step. Making sure all of your meeting participants know what your policy covers, how it will be enforced, and potential consequences for failing to comply with the policy. 

2. TAKE CARE

Train Your Staff

We offer training for meeting staff on how to effectively implement you policy, including how gently and compassionately to gather information for incident reports; how to gauge the severity of an incident and the likelihood that the harasser will stop the behavior; and how to act on incident reports quickly and fairly. You staff will also learn when and how to recognize unprofessional behavior—whether it is an interaction with you, or another member or vendor—and steps to prevent or stop harassment or unwelcome attention without escalating the situation.

3. DO IT THERE

Meeting harassment differs from workplace harassment in that it requires an rapid response to guarantee the safety and comfort of attendees. Behavior that violates your anti-harassment policies is an abuse of the privilege of attendance at your meeting and must, whenever possible, have immediate consequences for the harasser in order to restore and maintain the kind of professional, collegial atmosphere your participants deserve.