Jian Ghomeshi report: why HR needs to read it

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As a well-established employer, the CBC has plenty of HR policies in place that should have protected its staff from harassment but recurrently failed to do so. Now, the independent report into the saga can be used an invaluable management tool for other HR professionals who hope to avoid a similar situation.

The enlightening 52-page report, by Toronto employment lawyers Janice Rubin and Parisa Nikfarjam, identifies the underlying HR problems that allowed Jian Ghomeshi to, allegedly, harass co-workers for a continued period – and also offers solutions.

Here are just some of the circumstances that Rubin and Nikfarjham say are largely to blame for the sustained abuse of power and that often creep up in other organizations.
 
  • No real boss
As a growing number of organizations embrace flat structures, the CBC report reveals this approach could actually become problematic.

At CBC, there was nobody who held clear authority over Ghomeshi and when lawyers asked witnesses who he reported to, there were no consistent answers.
 
  • Young workers
The report highlights the need for HR professionals to recognize that young Canadians are being pressured into putting up with hostile work environments because the current economic climate has made it difficult for them to secure professional opportunities.

The lawyers say young workers are particularly “vulnerable” and organizations must be wary that they may be staying quiet about any ill-treatment.
 
  • Employee surveys
Most organizations roll employee surveys out on a regular basis – but has yours ever asked about sexual harassment? The opportunity to ask employees, anonymously, if they’d ever experienced unacceptable behaviour is not one that should be passed over as it will very likely reap the most accurate results.

The full report on the CBC investigation can be read here.

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  • Ken Robb on 2015-04-20 1:07:31 PM

    In relation to the Ghomeshi situation and specifically the difficulty in determining his reporting relationship, I have one comment. After a long career in Human Resources, when I was dealing with various problem situations, the foundation of the situation was very often related to some ambiguity in accountability; who is ultimately responsible?. Seems like a straight forward part of organizational life but often confused and poorly defined, leading to outcomes where no one seems to have full responsibility.

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