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Sexism Sensitivity Training in the Workplace

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 10 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Sexism Discrimination Sensitivity

Sensitivity training is not often an employee’s favourite activity but for employers it can be a very effective method of reminding everyone about appropriate workplace attitudes and actions. If you are considering sexism sensitivity training in the workplace be sure to hire a professional, requests literature for the workplace, schedule it before an incident occurs and require all employees to attend, Solicit opinions following the presentation so that everyone feels as though they have a voice and are being heard.

Hire a Professional

Professional sensitivity trainers may seem like an added expense for employers concerned about their bottom line, but what you spend on a professional will be more than made up for in the effectiveness of the presentation. Also known as “cultural sensitivity trainers” or “diversity trainers” these professionals are experts at:
  • Explaining the legalities of discrimination in the workplace.
  • Providing clear examples of sexism and other discrimination.
  • Using professional videos and literature to reinforce their discussions.
  • Keeping employees interested and involved in presentations.
  • Answering questions about sexism and discrimination.
  • Offering advice for how employers and employees can combat sexism and discrimination.

Request Literature for the Workplace

When you hire a professional trainer to speak to your workplace about sexism be sure to request that the trainer brings along any professional literature. (S)he may have wallet cards, pamphlets, fliers, posters or even handbooks to distribute to employees or which employers can choose to display in the workplace. This literature is a great way to keep an emphasis on combating sexism even after training is done.

Schedule Training Before an Incident

If possible, schedule sexism sensitivity training before an incident occurs. Not only will it help keep your workplace running smoothly, but if training is scheduled following a specific incident then the victim of the incident will likely be on everyone’s minds during training and may feel even more uncomfortable about such attention. Strive for training to be preventative rather than reactive and you may be able to avoid inappropriate incidents altogether.

Require Total Attendance

When you schedule sexism sensitivity training in your workplace require total attendance. Make it mandatory for all employees to attend together so that no one feels they are above the training or, conversely, being told that they especially need it. Making such training mandatory is also a great way to ensure that everyone hears the same information at the same time, so no one can claim ignorance later.

Solicit Opinions Following Presentations

Sensitivity training is often mocked in popular culture, but by soliciting feedback following presentations you will be giving employees a stake in making future training even better and more relevant. Questionnaires make soliciting feedback quick and easy, and passing around questions at the close of the event may net you more responses. Consider asking employees to:
  • Give an opinion on the quality of the training.
  • Explain what was helpful about training.
  • Provide information on what was irrelevant during training.
  • Offer suggestions on how training could be improved in the future.
  • Reflect on what they learned at a training.
  • Suggest changes your organisation could make related to the training.
Sexism sensitivity training can be a great way for everyone in a given workplace to get on the same page regarding this type of discrimination. If you are considering booking this type of training be sure to hire a professional trainer, requesting literature for your office, scheduling it before an incident occurs, requiring total attendance and soliciting feedback following the training.

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