Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Perhaps not coincidentally, I have been doing a lot of EEO training in the past few weeks. In some cases, clients and I did this work one or two years ago and they wanted an organisation-wide refresher. In other cases, they want to promote awareness in the wake of recent events or in anticipation of end of year functions.
Working with one client group this week a participant made a comment about the "inevitability" of poor behaviour at Christmas parties where clients supply alcohol at an open bar. "After all", this participant argued strenuously, "after 5 hours of free booze, how would you expect someone to behave?! But I wouldn't want to create any scandal or anything... so I think we should just confiscate mobile phones and cameras at the door."

I suppose I should have been relieved he was at least thinking about his 'digital reputation' and the company brand, even if not about his role in enhancing or tarnishing it.

If we accept his premise that the company provides the alcohol, so of course we can abuse it, let's take this to the nth degree.

What would follow is, if the company provides a mixed gender workforce, every straight person working there will (eventually) end up sexually harass someone.

If we work in a multicultural workforce, then surely racial harassment will be par for the course.

If we give our people access to the internet, then the boss we don't like or holds us accountable, will undoubtedly be fair game for social media abuses.

And imagine if we were butchers and the company gives us knives, then we're surely gonna cut someone!

Where does employer responsibility end and self- responsibility kick in? And for the employee who cannot find any self-control and can't ever stop at a few drinks, then both the employee and the company have more to concern themselves with than just a Christmas function.