Why Workplace Harassment Persists—And What Employers Can Do About It

(Submitted by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Specialist, SBDC Export Assistance Network, OSU South Centers)

Article by Joan S. Farrell, JD, BLR Legal Editor

Complaints of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct have dominated the news recently with allegations ranging from sexual threats, to groping, to sexual assault. While the allegations have made the news because they involve people in the entertainment industry and politics, it’s readily apparent from the thousands of stories shared using #MeToo that sexual violence and harassment remain a widespread problem. According to a recent poll, 30% of women in the workplace have experienced unwanted sexual advances from male coworkers.

The persistence of harassment in the workplace is borne out by the increasing numbers of sexual harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC reports that 12,860 charges of sexual harassment were filed with the agency in 2016, up from 12,573 charges filed in 2015. The numbers represent charges alleging sexual harassment and do not include charges alleging other kinds of unlawful harassment (based on race, color, religion, national origin, etc.).

The EEOC and the courts define sexual harassment as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects a person’s employment, unreasonable interferes with work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Generally, the more severe and offensive the conduct is, the less frequently it must occur before it constitutes sexual harassment. Some courts have found that sexual harassment can occur with a single offensive act if the conduct is sufficiently severe, particularly when there’s physical contact. But less offensive acts, if repeated frequently, can add up to sexual harassment.

Employers are strictly liable for sexual harassment by a supervisor if the harassment results in a tangible employment action (e.g., the harassed employee is fired or demoted). But if there’s no such action, an employer can defend itself by showing that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly stop harassment and that the employee alleging harassment failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective action provided by the employer.

Employers recognize that harassment is costly in terms of monetary payments, disruption in the workplace, retention of good employees, and reputation. So, what can employers do to prevent workplace harassment?

• Management sets the tone. A company culture that doesn’t tolerate sexual harassment—even when committed by employees who make big money for the employer or work at high levels in the organization—is the key to preventing harassment from occurring in the first place.
• Encourage employees to come forward with complaints. Sexual harassment is underreported in the workplace for many reasons, including fear of retaliation, being labeled as a troublemaker, or having an allegation minimized (e.g., being treated as someone who’s “overly sensitive” or who “can’t take a joke”).
• Create procedures. To help employees come forward with complaints, have a complaint procedure in place—make sure the procedure is easy to follow and understand, is communicated clearly to all employees, and provides options for employees to report harassment (i.e., don’t require employees to report harassment to their supervisors—who may be committing, contributing to, or ignoring the harassment).
• Create policies. Have and enforce a sexual harassment policy that not only prohibits unlawful harassment but that also prohibits inappropriate conduct in the workplace—this allows an employer to take disciplinary action against an employee before his or her inappropriate conduct rises to the level of unlawful harassment—to nip the potential harassment in the bud before it becomes a legal problem for the employer.
• Train ALL of your employees. Provide harassment prevention training to all employees, not just supervisors—employers are liable for harassment by coworkers if the employer knew about the harassment and failed to take appropriate action to stop it.

12-6-2017 QuickBooks® 2 Workshop Offered

(Shared by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

The Business Development Program of the Community Action Committee of Pike County, the Pike County Career Technology Center and the OSU Small Business Development Center are offering a one-day QuickBooks® 2 Workshop on Wednesday, December 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the CAC of Pike County, 941 Market Street, Piketon, Ohio 45661.

This full-day workshop is a continuation of the Introduction training and covers additional components of the QuickBooks® Program.

Participants learn how to memorize transactions, customize forms, use other QuickBooks® accounts, create reports and graphs, track and pay sales tax, prepare payroll with QuickBooks®, share files with an accountant, create job estimates, track time, and write letters.

To obtain more information or to register by phone, contact Lisa or Wendi at 740-289-2371 or toll free at 1-866-820-1185.

4 Steps To Creating A Vision For Your Business

(Shared by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Posted by a Contributor on 3/21/17
at Youngupstarts.com
by Rich Allen, author of “The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners“

Running a business takes more than a day-by-day approach. You need a clear idea of where you want your business to be ten years from now — your own North Star that not only inspires you, it inspires your team as well. Essentially, if you want to get somewhere and you want people to follow you there, you have to visualize it first: you can’t be a leader without vision.

The problem is, most of us are too busy tackling the everyday challenges to sit back and look at what we’re doing and where we want to be. Buried under the daily pressures of running a business, most small business owners can barely think six months ahead, let alone ten years.

Here are four simple steps to picture your business in ten years, and chart the best course to get there and inspire your people to get behind you and come along for the ride:

1. Start with the mountaintop.

Imagine it’s ten years from now. Write down all the particulars you can of what your business looks like. There are no right or wrong answers here. The point is to focus on learning your vision of your business in the future: where you want to go, and what you want it to look like. Don’t worry about whether it will actually turn out this way.

•How many team members you’ll have
•What locations you’ll have
•What products and services you offer
•How your business is structured
•What your ideal customer or client looks like
•What kind of volume you’re doing
•What your own life is like, and how involved you are in the daily goings on of your business.
•And if you’re not involved any more, what are you doing instead?

2. Back up five years.

Once you have the ten-year vision down in writing, back up halfway. In five years, where do you need to be in order to be on track to hit that ten-year point? Cover the same details, and write them down. For instance:
•How many people are on your team?
•Do you have half the locations as in ten years?
•Are you offering the same products as services as now, or the same as in ten years?
•Have you found your ideal customers yet?
•Are you doing half the volume you’re doing in ten years?
•Are you still going into work every day? What’s your own life like in five years?

3. Back up two more years.

Now that you have your five-year vision, take it back to the three-year version of your business. Ask the same questions, and think about whether or not your three-year vision backs up your five-year vision: are you on the right course? Where do you have to be in here years in order to achieve your five-year goals?

4. Back up to next year.

Finally, flip the script entirely: You need to take a sharp look at the next year — and now you have a ten-year perspective to do it in. So ask yourself: where do I need to be next year to be on track to reach my three-year vision? Use the same criteria, and make sure it’s as specific as possible.

By starting at the top and working your way back, you’ve already set up your goalposts. And with a very specific outline of your one-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year vision, you can start to create a plan and structure for your business that will get you to each benchmark. You can share this vision, and its structure, with your people, inspiring them to follow your lead. You can also check in periodically, and see if you are on pace to make what you need to make happen. If not, you have a good idea of what needs to be modified or adjusted — without losing focus.

The truth is, if you just go on about your daily activities and hope you’ll one day end up where you want to be, changes are, it won’t happen. Eighty percent of new businesses will not survive the first five years — and much of them fall prey to their own functional nearsightedness. Instead, plan out where you want to be and use a vision to guide you. Time flies when you’ve set a course.

Original Article

Local Students Tour Manufacturing Facility as part of National Manufacturing Month

(Submitted by Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

To showcase October’s National Manufacturing Month, local high school seniors along with staff members from the OSU South Centers Business Development Network, recently, toured the Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. manufacturing facility in Jackson, Ohio.

Speyside produces barrels for bourbon distilleries across the United States. While the company has been in business since 1947, they began production at the Jackson facility in 2016. Much of the raw materials used to produce the barrels comes within a 30-mile radius of Jackson. The tour highlighted the process of converting the raw materials into barrels through CNC machining and modern manufacturing.

National Manufacturing Month helps highlight the value of manufacturing to the economy and the opportunity for available and highly-skilled careers.

Eastern High School Seniors from Pike County participated in the tour to highlight local careers available in the manufacturing industry after graduation. “Not only did these students get to tour a manufacturing facility in the region, they also learned career opportunities in manufacturing as well as some required skills needed to enter the workforce.” Mick Whitt, Manufacturing Specialist with the OSU South Centers stated during the tour.

This tour also kicked off a new collaboration for the Southeastern Ohio Region. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for 22 southern and southeastern counties will be housed at the OSU South Centers Endeavor Center in conjunction with the Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence. The MEP program will focus on providing value-added manufacturing consulting services to manufacturers throughout the region. Some services include business development, new product innovation, supply chain development, and strategic growth planning.
Additional tours partnering high school students with manufacturers in the Southeastern Ohio Region are being planned throughout the coming year.