How To Go About Creating A Harassment Reporting Process That Protects Employees


By: Drew McManus

In: Legal

The Washington Post published an article on 7/26/18 that reports allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against several leaders throughout the nonprofit performing arts sector.

In a follow-up article, the Post published the following comment from the CEO at one of the organizations where one of the subjects from the article works.

“There was no blind eye turned,” [Cleveland Orchestra executive director André Gremillet] said. “No allegations were made; no one came forward to anyone in management. I need to know about it to do something about it. I don’t want to make assumptions about Bill,” he added. “But we have to be careful that we don’t condemn someone in the court of public opinion. We need people to come forward. I know how difficult it is, but we need to hear about it.”

While crisis management isn’t the ideal time to foster thoughtfulness, it’s important to remember that the goal of a harassment reporting process is making sure it doesn’t inadvertently throw out speed bumps preventing allegations from being reported.

There’s a terrific article from to help you figure out how to start that process and review any existing processes (emphasis added):

Here’s how your organization can begin to create a culture where harassment is not perpetrated, tolerated or ignored

3. Put harassment reporting systems in place for staff, volunteers and board members

Harassment can be just as prevalent among boards and volunteers as it is among staff. Each of these groups must be aware of your anti-harassment policy and of the procedures for reporting instances of harassment.

Reporting processes vary from organization to organization, but most nonprofits ask victims of harassment to discuss complaints with their immediate supervisor, who will then report it to the HR department or to the Executive Director. At most workplaces, victims can also directly report incidences to HR. Then, the HR team, or the designated representative must thoroughly investigate the report and recommend any necessary consequences. The reporting process should involve thorough documentation and record keeping at all phases, as well as communication with the alleged harasser and the harassed about what to expect as the process moves forward.

Often, victims feel nervous or embarrassed about reporting workplace harassment, even to an objective third party like HR. To ensure that all employees––even those who are uncomfortable openly coming forward––are encouraged to speak up, consider implementing a simple, anonymous reporting tool like MySafeWorkplace or AllVoices.

Additionally, as Nonprofit HR CEO Lisa Brown Alexander noted in a recent interview with NPR on the topic of sexual harassment, organizations can consider utilizing an outsourced HR department to handle reports of harassment. Hiring an outside HR or law firm to investigate reports as a neutral third party can often improve staff trust in the process.

Be sure to read the complete article by Alicia Schoshinski and check out those resources from MySafeWorkplace or AllVoices.

Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
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