Perhaps more accurately, let's talk about the failure to talk about sex. If you want an instruction about what not to do, just follow the example of Baylor University. Baylor, the country's largest Baptist university, recently fired longtime winning head football coach Art Briles, and reassigned the President of the University, Ken Starr, after a scathing report from the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton found that the university had mishandled sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints against football players and others. At least six women had accused eight football players of sexual assault.
Hired to conduct a "thorough and independent investigation into the university's handling of alleged sexual violence on campus", the law firm did not disappoint, interviewing 65 witnesses and reviewing hundreds of documents. Ultimately, their conclusion that both the head football coach and President Starr had been remiss in their duties led to their dismissal or demotion. Starr's reassignment was especially ironic given his role in the investigation into President Bill Clinton's imbroglio with Monica Lewinsky. Hired to looked into a completely different matter, it was only because of Starr's frenzied digging that Clinton was almost impeached in a sexual scandal.
The university had ignored some complaints, in others, taken years to investigate, or conducted inadequate investigations. In addition, the athletic department had interjected itself into some investigations or tried to cover up complaints or even retaliated against the victims.
What Should You Do?
Take a lesson from Baylor.
- Don't look the other way when employees raise sexual harassment issues.
- Have proper procedures, policies and experts in place before claims arise.
- Investigate claims promptly.
- Have skilled investigators who know how to look into these sorts of claims or be willing to hire outside help.
- Make sure that managers and executives are trained in how to receive complaints, how to report issues and how to avoid retaliation. Your job could depend on it - as could the reputation of your organization.
We Can Help
We provide training for managers and executives on harassment and EEO matters, as well as for HR professionals and attorneys who conduct investigations. We also help review investigation policies and procedures.
Call or write us for more information: 303-216-1020 or
For more helpful info read Lynne's books on sexual harassment and
how to handle tough conversations with your employee