Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Series: Sexual Harassment Math Quiz

Let’s take a quick crack at some math.  We are going to take a look at a figurative multifamily situation involving a community with 20 employees.  The property management company does not believe that training is necessary in order to help prevent sexual harassment claims.

As a result of that line of thinking someone makes what they think is an innocent statement towards another employee and then BOOM!!!!!!! A claim is filed with the property manager.  Are your pencils sharpened?  Good!  Let’s see how much this is going to cost our figurative multifamily company.

The first step they have to take is to hire a professional to investigate the situation.  Usually this is an entire business week that is charged back to the property management company. The typical cost is 40 hours X $100.00 per hour.  That’s $4000.00. After that the investigative company mandates that the entire staff take a day of offsite sexual harassment prevention training.  Pencil’s ready?  Let’s say the average pay per hour is $15.00 per hour.  So we need to calculate $15.00 X 8 hours X 20 employees.  Total cost to the company for that training day.  $2400.00

Now you need to factor in travel expenses, meals, textbook and materials, and of course the person you are paying to train your 20 team members.  That will add approximately another $1500.00.  The grand total for this sexual harassment claim----$7900.00.  Let’s not even go down the road if the alleged victim decides to take their claim to court and wins.

Now let’s theorize how much it would cost this company if they had instituted a preventive training program that had a sexual harassment prevention course that could be tracked and analyzed where the team members needed help on this subject.  For an LMS with a Sexual Harassment prevention course, it would cost a company as little as $35.00 per year per employee to take the course twice.  That’s approximately $700.00 a year to train the whole company. 

I’ll let you do the math.

Written by Jonathan Saar. Average statistics provided by The Training Factor


  1. Were you watching The Office last night too? That episode was just on!

    It's amazing to me that people think you can avoid training employees on sensitive subjects. Everyone wants a harassment-free work experience, yet no one's willing to communicate what they find in/appropriate in the first place? Lines will surely be crossed. That's what happens when you don't clearly communicate your expectations for behavioural standards.

    Another thing about anti-harassment training: I've seen a lot of people treat it as a way to CYA. Viewing it in that light tends to make it significantly less effective, simply because it breeds the kind of thinking that "I don't really need this, I already know it, this is just something they need me to do to say that they offered training." A lot of diversity training fails for the same reasons. In reality, anti-harassment training exists to ensure that everyone can work without the added stress or worry of being subjected to That Guy (or That Girl) - it's not about suppressing free speech, it's about ensuring that we respect everyone's right to a workplace where they do not feel intimidated or unwelcome. And that means talking about a lot of things that some people take for granted.

    But as you've pointed out, we can't afford to take those kinds of things for granted. Even if the human cost of emotional damage to the victim isn't an issue, even if the damage to your company's reputation isn't an issue - those are some frighteningly high figures that any upper-level type should pay attention to!

  2. Thanks for visiting Sara! You have great insights into this subject. The emotional damage will be another subject for a future post. The training needs to be real, not just stats and laws. Real situations connect with us all and give us the lessons that are of the most value. I greatly appreciate your comments!