The Band-Aid Effect

#Metoo has seen a rise in women AND men ending the silence of sexual misconduct and bad behaviour in the workplace. Though we’ve seen many people come forward with allegations of misconduct and engage in conversations around how this campaign empowers others to similarly come forward, there has been very little discussion as to why this has gone on unreported for so long and how it can change.

In my last blog post I touched a little on some big-name companies who have had scandals leaked to the media, and in response declare that ‘they will be reviewing their HR process to make sure this doesn’t happen again’.

Every time I hear this statement being made, I can’t help but cringe. This sort of statement is what I like to call ‘the Band-Aid Effect’. The Band-Aid effect refers to a quick fix; something that covers the symptoms but does not investigate and treat the underlying problem.

Processes, policies and procedures are relevant and build the foundation of good business practices. They help create structure; they are a point of reference; they are rules and guidelines for business operation and staff conduct; they give definition and understanding to the working of a business and their staff and set the minimum expectations for how you should be treated and behave at work.  

Importantly for employers, when processes, policies and procedures are done well they can offer protection to the business. However, when a crisis arises, such as the ones we’ve seen recently with allegations of sexual misconduct, we must realise that the processes, policies and procedures are not the cause. By ‘reviewing’ them and adding a few new paragraphs, you are not stopping it from happening again. Rather, you are just applying the band-aid, waiting for the wound to heal over, not realising there may be an infection bubbling much deeper.

Simply put, when something goes wrong, employers must look much deeper to figure out why, and make impactful changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. These changes are not necessarily a one-off action. Usually it takes a deep analysis into the business culture, a plan of action, coaching and leadership development. It requires business leaders and HR to roll up their sleeves and treat the infection quickly, before it spreads.

It definitely is troublesome to think that your business may have some of these behaviours hidden within, and sometimes changing policies is a choice made by senior leaders as it provides a quick and easy response and is a lot easier than facing the problems which may be buried deep within the DNA of the business. However, it is for that very reason that I believe if an employer genuinely wants to improve the workplace culture for everyone, then the problems need to be properly solved.

A Human Agency has worked with many businesses that have had to face hard problems within their workplace culture. We know what is at stake for the business and believe that we have the solution. We believe that the only way for the #metoo campaign to take any proper effect, we need to first rip off the band-aid and treat the problem at its root.

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