Workplace Policies and Bystander Interventions

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Workplace policies related to bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment should include bystander interventions as a required response to inappropriate behavior. For the most part workplace policies are based and developed around the culture of the organization. Policies tend to place a significant amount of responsibility of reporting on the target. The target, in many cases, is left to prove the allegations by finding reliable witnesses or individuals who are prepared to risk backlash for supporting their claim. Reporting inappropriate behavior causes the target to be viewed with suspicion and mistrust by colleagues and in the extreme cases can lead to retaliation. If the target decides not to report the bad behavior, then the behavior will likely continue unabated, creating persistent harm to the target while sustaining larger issues for the organization. A way to curb the problems surrounding bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment, organizations could mandate bystander intervention to relieve the target of their sole responsibility for reporting and stopping the predatory and inappropriate behavior. Implementing mandatory policy will place the responsibility of creating a healthier organizational culture on EVERY member of the organization, rather than only the target.

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