CPB to require anti-harassment training for stations to get funding

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Starting March 31, CPB will require annual harassment prevention training for employees of all stations receiving a Community Service Grant.

“All organizations, large or small, must systematically reinforce their employees’ understanding and intolerance of workplace harassment,” CPB President Pat Harrison said in an email to CSG recipients Friday.

CPB itself requires annual harassment prevention training as a condition of employment, Harrison said, “a practice which many of you follow and we consider appropriate for all public media stations that we support.”

The corporation will offer stations free online interactive training on topics including acceptable and unacceptable workplace behavior, and how to report and respond to violations.

Stations may also use a comparable training program, Harrison said. Every employee must take part in the training.

Training must be completed by Oct. 1. CPB’s office of grants administration will provide stations with further details, Harrison said.

Managers and employees at several public media organizations have been investigated following allegations of harassment over the past several months.

6 thoughts on “CPB to require anti-harassment training for stations to get funding

  1. Yay. Yet another unneeded, undocumented, and unaccountable move by the CPB to whip another phantom regulation onto member stations without any research, feedback, or even intelligent thought put into the matter. What the hell’s going on at CPB? They’ve gotten notoriously out of control with just randomly announcing new requirements to get a CSG…requirements that have
    **no documentation whatsoever** and are not in the rules…that sometimes are just casually mentioned during a conference and nowhere else. (yes, so if you didn’t attend the conference, you have no idea CPB wants you to complete an expensive new round of documentation)

    Now comes this idiotic knee-jerk response to the rash of harassment complaints rampaging through public radio. I thought CPB was supposed to PROTECT member stations from meddling politics? I mean, if this were actually going to do something about sexual harassment in the workplace? I’d be all for it. But it’s well-documented that “harassment training” does nothing to actually stop harassment. The only thing that does is workplace culture, and workplace culture starts at the top. Not by forcing every worker bee to waste several hours in worthless “training” that insults their intelligence.

    • Cool your jets Jack. Have you ever received anti-harassment training? Colleges have long required these sessions of all faculty and staff. There’s always something to learn.

      Harassment doesn’t always start at the top — sometimes it festers in the middle. Bullies, you know who you are. Training helps shine a light on behaviors that might otherwise pass for “normal.”

      • Actually yes, I have. I’ve worked in academia for nearly 20 years, at three different colleges. Mostly in student services-related positions. So yes I’ve been through the “sexual harassment training” many times and never once have I seen it actually prevent any harassment. Because never once have I seen a college actually ACT on any of the problems the harassment training uncovers. Why not? Because it’s painful, and expensive. And it requires enormous courage and commitment because there will inevitably be lawsuits. And it create a public perception that your college has big sexual harassment problem and that hurts enrollment and that hurts the bottom line. At some schools, just losing ONE student can means the loss of $10,000 (more or less) in annual revenue.

        Sexual harassment training is shorthand for: “we know this is a huge problem that will take far more effort and money than we’re ever going to be willing to put into it, so we’ll do this in the hopes it covers our asses legally and looks good in the papers and sweep the problem under the rug because it’s much easier and cheaper.”

        Meanwhile 1 in 4 female students are getting sexually assaulted every damn year, training or not.

        If CPB really wants to change behavior, they’d yank all funding from, for example, WNYC and WBUR. Why not? There’s well-documented problems with harassment (if not always sexual harassment) at both locations. They’re not gonna change that culture until it’s more expensive to NOT to change it.

        • Jack — Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when George was confronted for having late night sex with a female janitor in an empty office ? Then, when he was confronted by his boss the next day, he said, with maximum George hubris “Help me here. Was that WRONG? Is there some sort of POLICY against what I did?”

          Years ago — under somewhat different circumstances — I dealt with a direct report who tried the “George defense”. And this was after the individual had been subject to progressive discipline for two past unwanted advances. My response? I presented him with his signature on the final tear-out page of the packet that was handed out at the University licensee’s most recent harassment workshop. On it he attested to the fact that he attended the training, that he was in accord with institutional policy and that he understood the consequences of violating it.

          Of course, this was not the centerpiece of the case for termination, but it was a significant tile in a larger ‘due diligence’ mosaic that helped make the firing ironclad. We paid zero “Go Away” money, and we were on solid ground to decline to provide a reference.

          As you correctly note, anti-harassment training is not a panacea, but it is a vital part of a foundation for establishing and/or changing work culture. Moreover, it is an opportunity to acquaint all concerned with the burgeoning area of gender equity in the workplace.

          This manager welcomes the Corp’s leadership on the matter. It’s an unambiguous statement that rightly puts the matter top of mind with all grantees.

          • Hi Duncan. I don’t disagree with anything you said. But I actually don’t think it’s terribly relevant to the CPB situation, either.

            I can understand building a case for termination against an employee. Although I personally (and, if given the opportunity, professionally) would say your specific case allowed for the employee to stay far too long. This is getting macro fast, but I think that attitude of “multiple warnings” is part of the overall problem of workplace tolerance of sexual harassment. My feeling is “one and done.” I don’t care what the specific circumstances are; I don’t want men (because it’s always men) feeling there’s a line that, until they get close to it, they don’t have to worry about their behavior. I want a “chilling effect” where every man is always a little bit worried about their behavior around their colleagues. Because, since that’s what women have to deal with every damn day, that’s when we’ll actually start to have gender equality in the workplace.

            Worse, I think the training encourages that mindset among harassers. They think “well I must be one of the OK ones because I completed the training and I didn’t think there was anything wrong.” All the moreso when such “form over substance” training relies so heavily on self-actualization…something these men (because it’s always men) inherently lack in the first place.

            About the only thing you and I agree on here (and that’s okay, a lively discussion is usually a good thing) is that it’s an “unambiguous statement.” 100% agree. It’s a statement that CPB doesn’t really care about solving the problem.

            As mentioned above, if CPB really cared, they’d start yanking funding from the stations with documented problems in this arena.

            (P.S. FWIW I actually never got into Seinfeld. I don’t know why, I’m totally in the right generation and demo for it. I just found all the characters to be incredible offensive….as your example demonstrates. I went and Googled the scene in question and, honestly, I was far more disgusted than amused. I look at this in awe that this passed for humor back in the 90’s. But I can see why you’d cite it – it’s a stunning apropos example. Here it is, by the way, for anyone else who’s curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RvNS7JfcMM )

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