As 2017 comes to a close, we are entering one of the most uncomfortable public conversations as a country, and society as a whole, centered around sexual harassment. Unfortunately, this very public discussion places a spotlight again on the risky businesses practices and patterns of toxic corporate culture. Over the last few decades, many organizations have attempted to legislate patterns of workplace behavior by establishing standards and policies, it is very clear that rules alone, have not been enough to eradicate toxic and illegal behavior. The cultural reckoning we are seeing in the headlines and active voices raised in the #metoo movement are driving a much needed conversation around abuse of power, workplace accountability and responsibility.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2016 report on sexual harassment cites the need for a sea change in the corporate attitudes and responsibility around sexual harassment. The commission reported that “much of the training done over the last 30 years has not worked as a prevention tool — it’s been too focused on simply avoiding legal liability.” In a flashing headline a few weeks ago, I found it remarkable that even at our highest levels of government, The House of Representatives was still evaluating a vote on a resolution to mandate sexual harassment training. Establishing policy does not have impact without accountability and enforcement. Shockingly only a handful of states in the US require any mandatory sexual harassment awareness training for leaders in supervisory positions. Although we may expect an uptick in statewide regulations on this issue, the guidelines will have little impact without organizations being prepared to observe, measure and enforce thorough accountability. Holding up responsibility at the highest levels of organization matters. Policy, without enforcement, will continue to permit abuse of power and toxic corporate cultures.
Gaining insights into patterns of risky behavior and risky decision making by business, function, and individual can bear the visibility companies need to run equitable and informed business cultures. Progressive organizations are the ones investing in AI to help with predictive reasoning based on consumer buying patterns, sentiment-analysis, brand loyalty, location preferences, and employee behavior. At an organizational level, I expect machine learning to emerge as an integral component of delivering insights into shaping equitable corporate cultures and more broadly, possibly driving well-informed regulatory decisions nationwide.