Joseph E. Murphy, JD, CCEP, CCEP-I
An article this week in the Wall Street Journal about the culture in Steve Wynn’s firm offered some interesting insights. In the article it was reported that managers discouraged complaints about harassment by Wynn or looked the other way. Where did this tone come from? According to a lawyer for a party involved in litigation between Mr. Wynn and his wife, when Wynn was asked in a deposition about the Wynn Resorts’ policy that all employees receive regular training to prevent sexual harassment, he responded, “he didn’t participate because he didn’t need it.”
OK, how many are shocked that a senior executive would say that? “Hey, I’m big and important, so I don’t need any training.” We aren’t going to stop harassment or any other form of company misconduct unless someone has the guts to challenge the top dogs. You can’t have ethics for the little folks, and “I’m too busy, I know all this” for the top ones.
Here is a suggestion for everyone involved in compliance in dealing with harassment. Don’t inflict any training on the workers unless and until the very top people have it first. Don’t train the front line employee until the CEO has sat through and participated in the training. The CEO does not need the condensed, “executive” level. The CEO needs the most intensive training. With no smartphone, iPad, phone calls or interruptions.
And my advice to the Judiciary, now trying to respond to having a circuit court judge resign after allegations of years of harassing conduct? Sure, go ahead and train everybody. But first, train the Justices of the Supreme Court. Train all the Circuit Court judges. There is no surer way to send the message. In fact, there is no other way to send the message, period.
If your company or organization can’t or won’t do this, then it is not serious about compliance.