ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The state requires their model sexual harassment prevention training to be renewed every four years. The Division of Human Rights, Department of Labor and counsel to Governor Hochul hosted a public hearing on Thursday to gain feedback from stakeholders and experts on the drafted policy.
“But when we bring in leaders, oftentimes we’re not looking at do they value diversity and inclusion, how do they treat every member of the workforce? Because that really does matter, you know,” said Seher Khawaja, a Senior Attorney at Legal Momentum.
Khawaja says New York must change the workplace culture by highlighting a value in diversity and equity. One way this can be done is by asking tough questions during the hiring process, “You have all of these qualifications, but do you treat your workforce with respect and I think that oftentimes we hear that behind the scenes, people in positions of power lack that broader respect.”
According to the Harvard Business Review there are more sexual harassment claims filed in the restaurant industry than any other. Melissa Fleischut is President and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association. She says every industry is different and the training model should reflect that, “The fact that the hospitality industry interacts with the public and not just co-workers complicates this issue for our workers. We would welcome the opportunity to provide our New York restaurants with a model policy for customer-employee harassment situations.”
Amanda Rue is Founder of the Shift Workshop a human resource consultancy that offers sexual harassment prevention training. She says training is just one layer of tackling sexual harassment, much of the responsibility lies on those in charge “A lot of this is about power dynamics. Really focusing on managers and supervisors and business owners as the first line of defense in creating a safer workplace,” said Rue.
The Department of Labor says they expect to have an updated Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy by the end of the year.