(KMSP) - Working more than 20 years as a human resources consultant Karen Gureghian of HR Business Partners calls this a unique time. What seems like a tidal wave of sexual misconduct accusations making headlines has lead to certain level of paranoia in many professional settings.
“I've talked to men recently that have said 'What can I say and what can't I say?' as far as what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at work," said Gureghian.
Gureghian believes at minimum companies should have a clear sexual harassment policy in place and annual training. In light of high profile accusations, most recently against Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor, Gureghian is receiving requests from companies wanting more training for employees on a continuous basis. She points out what might be common sense to one employee might be a teachable moment for another.
“If it's everyone once in a while someone says 'Hey you look nice today, I like your dress,' that’s fine,” said Gureghian. “But if it's every day and it's accompanied by prolonged starring, makes the other person feel uncomfortable, that's where I could see it leading to a charge of harassment."
In the same breath, Gureghian says if you doubt the appropriateness of your comments reserve them all together. She believes the culture change of what's now tolerated in the work place is undeniable.
“There is a lot more diversity there are a lot more women in higher level positions,” said Gureghian. “Maybe in the past, they would be willing to kind of look the other way or put up with certain behavior they are not putting up with that behavior anymore."