Jack Marshall

Sexual Harassment and Workplace Ethics


The goal of ProEthics sexual harassment training is to create both consensus and understanding among management and support staff on appropriate and proper workplace conduct. The training emphasizes ethical considerations, common sense and respect, as well as critical concepts such as power abuse, hostile environments, and the misuse of protective regulations as coercive weapons.

The ProEthics approach arises from the premise that although employee compliance with state and Federal laws is the ultimate objective, this can best be achieved through a genuine acceptance of the underlying principles involved. The result is compliant behavior motivated by a desire to do the right thing rather than by fear of reprisals.


This is an interactive presentation. It begins with a discussion of the evolution of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination laws, the rationale for them, and the principles involved. This includes an open-ended analysis of several high-profile case studies, with the objective of flushing out the group’s reservations and skepticism about the logic and fairness of current sexual harassment law. At all times, the discussion is kept light, humorous, and unthreatening.

The main bulk of the program is devoted to skits, role-playing exercises and hypotheticals that raise common issues and dilemmas. Each is discussed among the participants, until a consensus is developed concerning how the situation should be handled.

Format Options

Depending on budget considerations, the program can be executed in three different formats:

* One facilitator

* One facilitator and three actors

The options involving actors permit all or most hypotheticals to be performed as humorous skits, increasing both the entertainment value and the effectiveness of the training.


Among the issues that are frequently included covered in a standard presentation:

  • Quid pro quo harassment
  • Subtle threats
  • Vertical dating
  • Peer dating
  • Flirting issues “Unwanted advances”
  • Inappropriate body language
  • Third party harassment
  • Jokes and office language
  • Dress
  • Art, decorations, and environment issues
  • “Glass ceiling” issues
  • Duties of management
  • “Persistence” issues
  • Consent
  • E-mail
  • Same sex harassment
  • Harassment “traps”
  • The “gray areas” of harassment and discrimination
  • Out-of-office and “Christmas Party” issues
  • Subtle or unintended discrimination
  • “political correctness issues’

In addition, ProEthics will devise hypotheticals and a discussion format for any particular issue of special interest to the company or its employees.

Other Options

Audience: If possible, it is preferable to have separate sessions for management and support staff. The program can be adapted for b0th large (50-100+) and small (10-25 ) groups.

Length: Two to three  hours is the optimal length.

Follow-up: ProEthics will, if the client desires, provide a 6 month evaluation and follow-up session with management and/or staff to ensure that the training has the desired results. Although such follow-up is recommended, one session has been shown to have significant impact over a longer period of time, provided that the staff remains intact and clear policies are devised and followed.

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