Sexual Harassment is No Joke

There has been a poster going around the HR circles from the training company, Kantola Training Solutions. Apparently, this poster started to pop up in SHRM National and is now showing up in attendee’s mailboxes. Since I didn’t attend SHRM, this year, I haven’t been so lucky to get mine. This poster is supposed to be promoting their sexual harassment training and, quite frankly, it misses the mark.

According to Kantola’s website, their goal is to “create positive and productive workplaces for all.” There’s a myriad of training solutions and offering. All pretty much the typical ones you see in the corporate environment around harassment and civil treatment. They offer posters you can download and share with your company. One particular poster that is drawing some attention says, “Harassment Is Never OK.” Agreed. Straight to the point and true. Then they try to get cute and put the graphics on the poster. Take a look here.

Now, I’m a pretty tolerant HR guy and I like to have a little fun. I know that HR can be perceived as a little stuffy and way too “by the book.” I love a good joke and like to poke fun at myself a lot. And I’m sure Kantola is a fantastic company. But sexual harassment is no joke. And a poster like this only draws attention to the graphic and not the overall message.

You can’t open a website or publication without seeing a headline of the latest company under investigation for sexual harassment or enabling a culture of harassment. As startups and tech companies try to do more with less and ignore the values of a good and decent culture, bad behavior festers. There are great solutions, like Kantola, that can be effective in the workplace and can help HR departments reach their audience when they don’t have the resources to build or create internally. And we should expect better than some cheeky, no pun intended, graphic addressing a serious topic.

HR is not always seen as the cool kids in the organization. We can be viewed as the compliance police and the office of “no.” There is not a week that goes by that I’m not the punchline of a joke or mentioned in jest. It goes with the territory and I have fun with it. What I don’t find funny are instances where we try to be one of the cool kids and go too far.

Save the jokes and creative one-liners for your open enrollment or employee survey promotions. When your marketing agency comes to you with material that raises the slightest bit of eyebrows around a topic as serious as harassment, shut it down. This is one area where it is totally acceptable to be the office of no.


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