Beauty and the Beast: Toxic Workplace

A tale as old as time…young women getting harassed at work. Fortunately, state and federal laws prohibit many of the behaviors that lead to a toxic work culture. The recent resignations by Miss USA and Miss Teen USA have put the topic of a toxic workplace in the spotlight.

What happened? Miss USA abdicated her title, citing an active culture of “fear and control.” Miss Teen USA soon followed, citing a difference in values with the organization. Since both women signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), little information has been provided. (In a fantastic turn of social media, fans noticed that the first letter in every sentence of Miss USA’s online statement spelled out “I am silenced.”) What has been alleged by Miss USA is her mental health condition was ridiculed and when she reported sexual harassment at a work event, she was belittled.

Why should I care? Whether it is called toxic or hostile, a work environment that ignores harassment and complaints by employees is at risk. As we all know, agency claims and lawsuits are expensive to defend and much worse to lose. Also, in the age of Glass Door and social media, it can be difficult to hire if your workplace has a negative reputation.

What can I do? There are many ways to foster a healthy work environment. Take a look at your handbook and policies. Is there clear language setting expectations? Is there an easy to use reporting procedure for employees to access? What are your training requirements? Do your managers and supervisors know what to look for and how to respond to complaints of harassment?

Regular, easily digestible training is the best investment you can make to ensure a healthy workplace culture. We have recently launched Foley Fundamentals–a certification program to improve knowledge and understanding in many HR subjects, including anti-harassment and discrimination. We have taken our decades of workplace trainings and created dynamic, engaging training modules that respect your time and real world experience. Contact us for more information. We can help.