Monthly Archives: November 2017

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Sexual harassment has dominated headlines in recent weeks, with the Harvey Weinstein exposé closely followed by revelations about Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. But workplace sexual harassment isn’t limited to Hollywood. Many companies in the tech industry have also made headlines for sexual harassment allegations in the past of couple years. Women have come forward to speak out about discrimination and harassment they experienced at companies such as Uber, Google, and Microsoft.

The ongoing problem of sexual harassment in tech

In early 2017, former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing the systemic sexism and sexual harassment she experienced during her one year with the company. Though she reported the incidents to HR, they were repeatedly brushed under the rug. In one case, after Fowler reported that she had been propositioned for sex by a member of upper management, she was told that Uber did not want to ruin the career of such a “high performer.”

When Fowler joined Uber in November 2015, over 25% percent of the company’s engineers were women. A year later, that number had dropped to just 3%. In the months following Fowler’s blog post, internal and external investigations into the toxic culture of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation have resulted in 20 firings and an exodus of executive talent.

Earlier this fall, Uber’s SVP of Engineering, Amit Singhal, was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Google the previous year. As reported by Recode, Singhal left Google in the wake of a sexual assault allegation. Singhal denied the claims, but Google found them “credible” and had been prepared to fire him before Singhal resigned.

The problem isn’t limited to Uber. Three female engineers have filed a lawsuit against Microsoft accusing the company of pervasive gender discrimination that they claim has cost women at Microsoft more than 500 promotions and between $100 million and $238 million in pay. If the case wins class-action status, the women will represent 8,630 peers worldwide.

Google is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for “systemic compensation disparities” between male and female employees that violate federal employment laws. Janet Herold, a representative for the Department of Labor, said in April, “The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry.”

Even in this industry assumes that such issues exist everywhere in tech, it’s just a matter of severity and getting caught. Indeed, it is hard to name a major company in Silicon Valley that hasn’t been accused of tolerating a culture of sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Many of the men that have made headlines for their inappropriate behavior have received consequences for their actions. They’ve been removed from power, their projects cancelled, and their reputations irrevocably tarnished.

That’s all well and good, but punishing past transgressions doesn’t do anything to prevent future incidents or change a working culture that permits incidents like these from not only happening but from going unreported – sometimes for decades. If we really want to make progress, we need to dedicate as much energy to advocating for women as we do to punishing men.

What qualifies as workplace sexual harassment?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Most of us probably feel confident that we would recognize and call out sexual harassment if we were to see it. But in many cases, harassment falls into grey areas that may not be explicitly outlined in sexual harassment training. Behavior that falls into grey areas is more likely to go unchallenged or unreported.

There are two broad categories of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Quid pro quo harassment: Employment decisions (such as promotions and raises) are made contingent on an employee’s acceptance of sexual advances or willingness to perform sexual favors.
  • Hostile work environment: The unwelcome conduct of supervisors, coworkers, or contractors that creates an intimidating or offensive working environment.

Behavior that can fall into these categories includes:

  • Sexual jokes
  • Suggestive comments
  • Discussion of sexual activities
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Commenting on physical attributes
  • Using innappropriate terminology
  • Sexual advances
  • Lewd body language

Sexual harassment includes both physical and nonphysical forms of harassment, and it is often the nonphysical forms that can become most pervasive in a toxic work environment.

Why do people tolerate unacceptable behavior at work?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Many of the women speaking out against Harvey Weinstein are doing so now after keeping their experiences private for years, or even decades. In discussions like those surrounding Weinstein, it’s acknowledged that victims of assault are often reluctant to come forward because they fear the consequences of speaking out against someone in power.

We may understand why women (or victims) keep quiet, but in most of these cases, the general response has been, “Everyone knew. It was an open secret, but no one said anything.”

So why don’t people who witness inappropriate workplace behavior intervene?

  1. They’re not sure what’s acceptable.

When a person is in a position of power, the prevailing assumption is that whatever they do must surely be allowed. Many of us are taught not to speak up to authority figures, even if we feel we know better.

  1. They don’t feel they have the power to speak up.

Standing up to a bully is intimidating, whether that bully is on the playground or wearing a suit and signing your paychecks. Some people don’t feel they have the courage to speak up or the strength to stand behind an allegation. They may also feel like their voice won’t make a difference.

  1. They fear retaliation.

Someone who witnesses harassment may be just as vulnerable to retaliation as the victim if they speak out. Fear of retaliation creates a toxic environment in which inappropriate behavior is permitted to continue while the majority of employees exist in discomfort and fear.

What can men do to prevent sexual harassment among colleagues?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Everyone goes through sexual harassment training their first day on the job. Most of us understand intuitively what is and isn’t appropriate behavior toward colleagues. And yet unacceptable behavior is frequently tolerated or ignored. The responsibility falls on men to change cultures of harassment in the workplace.

Here’s what men can do to prevent workplace sexual harassment:

  • Pay more attention. It’s easier to look away from unacceptable behavior than it is to confront it, especially when the behavior falls into the grey area. We can close our ears to inappropriate remarks or pretend not to notice a wandering eye. Start paying more attention to the behavior of men in your office – and more importantly, to the body language of women on the receiving end. Learn to read their discomfort.
  • Hold your male colleagues accountable. Cultures of harassment form when men don’t hold each other accountable for their actions. If you overhear male coworkers speaking inappropriately to or about a female colleague, call them out. Make it known that you won’t tolerate hearing such language in the office. Harassers are more likely to respond to a third party challenging their behavior, especially if that person is another man.
  • Be an ally for your female colleagues. If a female colleague comes forward with an allegation of harassment or discrimination, believe her. Stand up for her to colleagues who dismiss or ridicule her claims. Protect her from retaliation.
  • Speak up when women can’t. Women often don’t feel safe reporting an incident of harassment. If you witness such an incident, take responsibility. Talk to your female colleague and ask her if she would be comfortable with you taking the issue to HR or a manager in her stead. Respect her wishes, but make it clear that you will support her.
  • Keep extensive notes. This is the most passive action you can take, but it’s still important and it’s better than doing nothing. If you witness an incident of harassment or discrimination, document it. Write down the date, time, details of what was said or done, who else was present, and where you were. Documentation from a third-party witness will corroborate any claim the victim files with HR or law enforcement.
  • Escalate the issue until it’s dealt with. The first person you should report an incident of harassment to is your manager. If they neglect to take action, bring the issue to HR. Unfortunately, as in the case of Susan Fowler, HR doesn’t always take the action it should. In that case, you can escalate the issue even further by going to a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (at the federal level) or the Fair Employment Practices Agency (at the state or local level).

Sexual harassment and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley and in workplaces across our nation will not go away on its own. It will require a fundamental shift in workplace culture to one of accountability, equality, and respect. The responsibility for that shift falls primarily on men. If one man at a time takes it upon himself to speak up for women and treat female colleagues as equals, norms will change and the tide will start to turn.

Hold yourself to a higher standard, and hold your male colleagues to one as well.


Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts and Extroverts | Recognize

Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts and Extroverts

Since Susan Cain’s bestselling book, Quiet, was released in 2012, the internet has exploded with articles on how introverts and extroverts operate differently in just about every setting – parties, classrooms, parenting, and the workplace.

The thesis of Cain’s book says that while much of our society is set up to reward extroversion, introverts contribute their own quiet strengths to make everything from an award-winning movie to a Monday morning meeting a success.

As a manager, you’ve no doubt learned or observed that introverts and extroverts approach work differently. It’s usually pretty easy to identify who on your team is an introvert and who is an extrovert. Broadly speaking, the extroverts tend to send more meeting requests, volunteer for more team-based projects, and prefer open-plan office spaces. In contrast, you’ll find your introverted employees tucked away in their office or cubicle, wearing headphones while they work, and never requesting a meeting when an email would do.

Many of the articles about introversion/extroversion in the workplace focus on directing introverts on how to thrive in an extroverted office by using their introversion to their advantage or advising extroverted employees on how to relate to their introverted colleagues. Yet very few address how introversion should impact employee recognition.

Not all employees work in the same way, and not all employees like to be recognized in the same way. What is meaningful and flattering to one employee might be mortifying or uncomfortable to another.

If recognizing your employees is important to you (and it should be!), you should understand how personality differences come into play when giving employee recognition. An employee’s personal preferences will dictate how they receive recognition, so they should also dictate how you offer recognition.

Introversion vs. Extroversion: The Basics

Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts and Extroverts | Recognize

Understanding what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert will make it easier to determine which forms of recognition each type of employee will find meaningful.

Essentially, the difference between introversion and extroversion is that while extroverts draw energy from their surroundings, introverts draw energy from within (and are easily drained by too-stimulating environments).

This fundamental difference is why you’ll see extroverts drawn to social settings like moths to a flame while introverts seek spaces within the office that are calm, quiet, and as secluded as possible. It’s why introverts tend to despise the trend toward open-plan offices and extroverts rejoice in it.

These definitions may seem straightforward, but they’re expressed in a wide variety of different ways throughout life. Here are a few examples:

  • Introverts prefer one-on-one conversations to group discussions
  • The phrase “the more the merrier” was without question coined by an extrovert
  • Introverts tend to be more private and will share personal news with a select few rather than making an announcement
  • Extroverts post more on social media platforms
  • Introverts are less active on social media and follow fewer people
  • Extroverts think out loud, while introverts prefer to process their thoughts completely before speaking
  • Introverts are less likely to raise their hand in class, even when they know the right answer
  • An extrovert might raise their hand even if they’re not sure they have the right answer
  • An introvert would prefer to go out to dinner with a close friend rather than attend a party
  • An extrovert would enjoy having dinner with a friend, but would plan to attend a party afterward
  • Networking events are an introvert’s worst nightmare
  • Extroverts are more engaged when they’re working collaboratively
  • Introverts are more productive when they have uninterrupted stretches of independent work time

Considering how introverts and extroverts respond differently to the same situation will help you think through which employee recognition techniques are appropriate for your introverted employees versus your more extroverted team members.

For example, while an extroverted employee might greatly appreciate a party thrown in honor of their 5-year work anniversary, an introvert would probably prefer a one-on-one lunch with their supervisor and perhaps one or two close colleagues.

Now that we’ve established the fundamental difference between introversion and extroversion and looked at various ways those differences get expressed, let’s explore some ideas for how to reward different personality types in the office.

Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts

Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts and Extroverts | Recognize

In general, you should avoid public recognition when rewarding introverts for good work. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that introverts don’t want to be recognized at all just because they don’t enjoy more public forms of employee recognition. Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. Introverts just appreciate recognition in different forms.

  1. Second a personal email. When an employee does something deserving of recognition, it might seem like an email sent to the entire company would be a great way to let everyone know about their achievement. However, that mass email is likely to prompt a stream of congratulations from well-meaning coworkers. What could be wrong with that? Well, too much attention is an introvert’s worst nightmare! You’re better off sending a personal email to the employee letting them know you appreciate their good work.
  2. Recognize them in front of their immediate team. If you do want to make sure that others are aware of your employee’s achievement, you can recognize them in front of a small group of people that they know well and are familiar with, such as their immediate team. Keep it simple, such as a quick “Good job” at the weekly standup. Congratulations from those they work closely with will mean more to an introvert than well wishes from colleagues they only know by sight.
  3. Send recognition via your company’s employee recognition platform. Employee recognition apps are perfect for introverts. Because recognition is sent through the platform, it feels more private even if other employees can see it. The employee is able to respond in their own time, without being put on the spot. With apps like Recognize, employees can also redeem recognition points for rewards that are most valuable to them, such as a gift card or paid time off
  4. Give thoughtful feedback. Many introverts are strong critical thinkers, and appreciate when others demonstrate that they were also paying attention to the details. Instead of just telling them “Good job,” describe what challenge you saw them overcome and why you admired how they handled it. They’ll really appreciate that you noticed their hard work and took the time to recognize them for it.
  5. Take them out for coffee. An introvert might not enjoy a group lunch or a party celebrating their latest achievement, but taking them out for coffee is a nice way to make a gesture of appreciation that’s more in line with an introvert’s preference for low-key, one-on-one social interactions. A coffee date also comes with a more predictable duration; many introverts dislike the ambiguity of a social event with no definitive end time. Just make sure to schedule the date in advance – most introverts appreciate warning prior to a social engagement.

Employee Recognition Ideas for Extroverts

Employee Recognition Ideas for Introverts and Extroverts | Recognize

The biggest difference between providing employee recognition for introverts and for extroverts is the execution. While introverts are uncomfortable being called out in front of a group or taken by surprise, extroverts are quite the opposite!

  1. Public recognition. Being called out in a large meeting – even for a positive reason – might make an introvert want to hide under their chair, but it will make an extrovert glow with pride. If appropriate, save your words of praise for a setting when others are around to applaud and congratulate them. The brains of extroverts are actually wired differently to be more responsive to praise, so words of praise will go a long way.
  2. Work party. Because extroverts thrive on socializing, a work party thrown in their honor on the occasion of a work anniversary or promotion is a great way to make them feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work. Being the center of attention and receiving compliments from well-wishing coworkers are just the kind of validation that motivates an extrovert to keep doing their best.
  3. Surprise lunch outing. Along with being more responsive to praise, the increased dopamine levels linked with extroversion also cause extroverted brains to crave and respond more strongly to novelty. A surprise reward is like a rush to the system for an extrovert! Because they tend to seek out both novelty and reward, they will work harder know their company understands and appreciates them.
  4. Experience-based reward. Extroverts tend to get more enjoyment out of experiences than tangible gifts. So if, for example, you’re partnering with a social recognition platform, make sure to include options to redeem points for experiences, not just gift cards or a better parking space. Extroverted employees would be more excited to redeem their points for tickets to a concert or sporting event, a flight upgrade on their next business trip, or a spa package.
  5. Ask them to share their achievement. While it’s better to let your introverted employees savor recognition in private, extroverted employees enjoy showing off a little. If you start a meeting by recognizing them for a recent achievement, ask if they’d like to say a few words about it to the group. Sharing their accomplishment allows them to relive the success, bask in their pride, and receive positive reinforcement from their team – all of which will motivate them to repeat the experience in the future.

Every employee on your team is unique, and it can be hard to learn how to manage everyone’s different work styles and preferences. But learning how to give employee recognition in a way that’s meaningful to each employee will increase job satisfaction, productivity, motivation, and overall employee retention. In other words: recognizing your employees pays off in both the short- and long-term, and is well worth the investment.