At this point, there’s no denying that workplace sexual harassment and discrimination are serious, pervasive issues. While it’s true that the majority of problems result from the misconduct of a few bad actors, the effect of even a single bully or harasser on your team should not be underestimated. In the book The No-Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, Stanford professor of engineering and management Robert Sutton shared research which showed that even a single bad actor can seriously harm team cohesion and productivity:
- Workers being bullied or harassed by others are often 30% less productive
- It takes 5 “non-assholes” on a team to counteract the negative effects of one belligerent employee on teammates’ productivity
The bad news is there’s nothing an employer can do to reform sociopaths. However, you can effect meaningful change by reframing your anti-harassment and inclusion efforts to focus on cultivating a positive working environment and eliminating behavior that interferes with team members’ ability to do their jobs.
A few practical steps we recommend are: