Judy Olbrych: Many thanks for taking the time to share your important insights. You raise several excellent points which all managers should take to heart. I concur that a practical fix would be “treating others with professional courtesy and respect.” However, while this sound easily applicable in theory, it’s not necessarily the case in practice (as you know) — per office politics, petty disputes, gossip mongering, jealousy, vanity, etc.

Leadership starts from the top. That means it’s incumbent upon CEOs and C-suite execs to clearly communicate down the company ladder that discrimination, retaliation and harassment will not be tolerated by managers and supervisors. Then match those words with deeds, such as stringent punishments for perpetrators of wrongdoing based on a “reasonable cause” standard of proof in consultation with HR and legal counsel (yes, this means evidence).

So-called “Zero Tolerance Policies” by employers must amount to more than just empty rhetoric or employee handbooks to check a box, or be placed on a shelf to gather dust and die. Procedures for “best practices” must be proactively communicated, implemented and acted upon from the top-down.

Lastly, I like your idea of showcasing a model EEO employer per best practices that yield positive results. Let’s see if I can find one worth writing about…

Strategic communications consultant advancing social justice and corporate social responsibility | former career spokesman at U.S. EEOC | DC-based, NY-bred

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