“Your app is easy-to-use and very smart but we don’t really need it. Not sure we want to make reporting misconduct that easy — sometimes it’s better not to know.”
Those were the words uttered to me by the VP of HR of a major global company in August of 2018. He didn’t like it when I told him his company was handling misconduct inefficiently. And, he hated it when I told him that it did not really matter if he and his ethics team liked the current reporting tools they had put in place. What mattered was whether the employees liked and trusted them enough to use them to report issues early so that the company could address them swiftly.
Although I was surprised by his comments and unwillingness to improve his reporting system, his position remains mainstream among many people in HR. It explains, in part, why in 2020, we are still dealing with the rampant problem of misconduct in our workplaces. A lack of “psychological safety” exists for thousands, perhaps millions, of employees across the country because corporate leaders often do not want to optimize learning about workplace problems. Ignorance can be far more comfortable but ultimately comes at a higher cost.
The overwhelming majority of people who experience or witness misconduct in the workplace never report it. Most of us agree that it is time for things to change. Yet, very few are brave enough to approach reporting misconduct differently. Albert Einstein defined the word “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is exactly the conundrum most employers find themselves in today when it comes to addressing workplace misconduct– they’re handling it the same way they have for years and hoping for a different outcome.
The idea behind #NotMe was born on a plane back in 2017. I was reading one of the #MeToo stories in a magazine. In the article, a famous actress was sharing how she had been the victim of sexual harassment. Upon finishing reading the article, two thoughts crossed my mind almost simultaneously. Number one, if a successful person like this actress cannot prevent nor report misconduct, how much more difficult must it be for someone with less social status? Secondly, I realized that my three children would one day be part of the workplace and that they’d need much better tools to deal with misconduct than what was currently available.
That day, I made a commitment to myself. I would use my personal resources and legal expertise through years as an employment lawyer specializing in workplace misconduct to create more powerful, accessible tools. Ones that would help everyone report and prevent misconduct – companies, universities, people all over the world. I felt strongly that the only appropriate outcome to #MeToo had to be #NotMe (no more victims). It became the name of my company.
Today, more than two years after #MeToo, little has changed. The truth is that eliminating workplace misconduct cannot be done simply by training nor legislating. It can only happen through empowering people and companies, (re)building trust and ultimately impacting behavior.
Employees should report instances of misconduct as soon as it occurs so that their employer can deal with the issue immediately. The first step in eliminating misconduct starts with reporting.
Employees also need an easier, more comfortable way to report misconduct (with anonymity, if they choose) and employers need an easy way to capture it so both can benefit by preventing an escalation of the problem.
So what do we have to offer?
We need an accessible and neutral tool at the ready for anyone who needs to use it.
One final point. Thankfully, not all HR leaders are like the VP of HR of the major company mentioned in the beginning of this post. Here is a recent quote of Sabra Reyes, HR director at Santa Cruz Seaside Co. to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
“We support our employees and empower them to do their best and we’re committed to ensuring everyone feels welcome, supported and safe at work. We partnered with #NotMe in order to strengthen our commitment to these values.”
Many more leaders like Sabra have joined #NotMe to make our workplaces safe. We invite you to join the #NotMe generation and download our app today.