Rethinking workplace training in light of Respect@Work reforms

Discover how to adapt workplace training in light of the Respect@Work reforms, focusing on comprehensive and holistic approaches to address complex issues and create a safe and inclusive work environment.
Training from the ground up illustration

The recent Respect@Work reforms and other legislation have significantly changed the landscape of workplace safety and harassment prevention. As a result, organisations must rethink their training approaches to effectively address these new challenges and create a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees.

Moving beyond conventional compliance training

Traditional compliance training may be insufficient in reducing workplace sexual harassment and discrimination. Instead, training programs need to address the complex issues that contribute to this problem. Training should include power dynamics, unconscious biases, and cultural issues that contribute to workplace misconduct, ensuring that employees develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors at play.

Steps we have seen being successful:

  • Incorporate scenario-based exercises that explore power dynamics and unconscious biases
  • Offer workshops on bystander intervention techniques
  • Address the role of cultural differences in workplace interactions

Equipping specialist advisors with appropriate skills

Specialist advisors, such as HR professionals, contact officers, investigators, and lawyers, need to be equipped with the necessary skills to effectively prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment. This includes a deep understanding of the impacts of harassment and the ability to handle sensitive situations in a professional and empathetic manner. Training specialist advisors on trauma-informed approaches can better support survivors, as well as those responding to reports and concerns raised.

Steps we have seen being successful:

  • Provide training on trauma-informed care and communication strategies
  • Offer certification programs for contact officers and investigators
  • Ensure continuous professional development through workshops and seminars

Developing educational programs for board directors and company officers

Board directors and company officers play a crucial role in creating a safe and respectful workplace. The AHRC report recommends developing educational programs for these stakeholders on good governance in relation to gender equality and sexual harassment. These programs provide a deep understanding of the issues at hand and the necessary tools to promote a culture of respect and safety within the organisation.

Steps we have seen being successful:

  • Create tailor-made training modules for board members and company officers
  • Offer training on legal obligations and best practices for promoting gender equality
  • Encourage active participation in industry-wide initiatives and conferences

Implementing a holistic approach to prevention and response

Training is an essential component of a broader approach to workplace sexual harassment prevention and response. It must work in tandem with clear policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms. A supportive workplace culture that promotes respect, diversity, and inclusion is also necessary. By implementing a comprehensive approach, organisations can create a workplace that prioritises the safety and well-being of all employees.

Steps we have seen being successful:

  • Develop and communicate clear anti-harassment policies and procedures
  • Establish multiple reporting channels, including tools for anonymous reporting
  • Foster a culture of respect and inclusion through regular team-building activities and events

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