Policy awareness and the promotion of appropriate values can be seen as the strongest available measures of harassment prevention.
As previously noted, many organizations already have well-written workplace anti-harassment policies in place. Nonetheless, courts and employment tribunals have often commented that organizations fail to take the necessary steps to ensure that these policies are effectively publicized, enforced, and translated into practice. Key among these is the requirement for policies and procedures to be regularly promoted. The net benefits of active promotion include:
- increased awareness of the individual responsibilities of all employees;
- familiarity and understanding of acceptable behaviour in the workplace; and
- recognition of continued commitment by senior management.
Key to effective promotion is training. In that respect, the success of any anti-harassment strategy greatly depends on a planned and systematic education/awareness and training program supported by an adequate budget. While some observers argue that to prevent, manage and control incidents of workplace harassment within law enforcement organizations, the police culture must first fundamentally change, a positive initial step is to effectively educate all members of a police organization about the damage and effects that workplace harassment causes to both individuals, to the police agency in question, and to the police professional writ large. These education and awareness activities must then be closely followed up by well-written policies and procedures that are consistently and strictly enforced across the organization.
The Calgary Police Service found that it was important for managers and supervisors to go through the anti-harassment training before their employees. This was intended to alleviate a common complaint made by staff members that supervisors were not also taking the training. Training management first would signal early on that the management team is committed to realizing a respectful workplace. In addition, supervisors and managers would receive the training first so as to ensure that they "walk the talk" and lead the way for subordinates as the organization moves forward. Finally, managers and supervisors would be in a better position to answer any questions about the policy and processes when staff members returned from the training.
In terms of the training curriculum itself and how it is delivered, it is recommended "... that the training, for both supervisors/managers and employees be delivered in person versus via e-learning since the strength of the program will be in attendees having meaningful dialogue on the why, what and how of creating and fostering a culture of respect ... that cannot be created in an e-learning format." It has been suggested that core elements of an effective training program should include those illustrated in Figure 2.
- Explain the theories and definitions of workplace harassment and bullying.
- Demonstrate the effects of harassment.
- Clearly spell out the organization's policy and procedures.
- Describe what is reasonable and unreasonable behaviour within the workplace.
- How to recognize harassment.
- How to defuse and avoid potential conflict.
- How to provide support to both complainant and perpetrator.
- Awareness of organizational and social attitudes towards different types of behaviour.
- Awareness of one's own behaviour and actions.
In terms of prevention, it should again be emphasized that managers play a vital role in terms of implementing an organization's workplace anti-harassment strategy. More specifically, managers need to clearly understand:
- the detrimental effects on the organization of failing to effectively resolve harassment;
- their legal obligations as the "employer's representatives" under health and safety and other legislation; and
- the importance of setting standards of appropriate behaviour within the workplace.
Furthermore, in order to effectively carry out the aforementioned responsibilities, managers need conflict resolution training, and general management training in coaching, mentoring, delegation and performance reviews and appraisals. The value of these skills for managers cannot be understated, as some research studies investigating workplace harassment have found that managers frequently perpetrate or exacerbate harassment incidents.
It bothered me to the core that the people who were preaching anti-harassment policies and behaviours were the same people who completely ignored those policies and behaviours. — RCMP Regular Member
An organization's leadership is pivotal to any effective anti-workplace harassment policy. In particular, managers must take a lead role in reminding staff members (e.g. at meetings and in newsletters) that harassment in the workplace is against policy and the law, and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Not only must senior management demonstrate its commitment to eliminating all forms of harassment within the workplace, it must also gain the acceptance of the policy by all staff members. As stated earlier, one way to achieve this is through input and consultation with employees at all levels.
Current RCMP training
Currently, all regular members of the RCMP are required to complete the Cadet Training Program upon entering the RCMP. According to information provided to the Commission, the Cadet Training Program is a 24-week basic training program which "... is founded on an integrated, problem-based learning methodology."
At the outset, cadets are provided with the RCMP Cadet Training Handbook, which outlines the Program and its objectives, provides cadets with additional information to facilitate their stay at Depot, and lists the Commitment to the Employees of the RCMP, among other items. That commitment includes "[t]reating all employees with equal respect and consideration" as well as "[e]nsuring a safe and harassment[-]free work environment."
Included in the handbook are the RCMP's mission and vision. Of note, the vision includes "ensur[ing] a healthy work environment that encourages team building, open communication and mutual respect."
The handbook also lists the RCMP's values: integrity, honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability. The mission, vision and values are continuously reviewed in the classroom sessions through scenario-based training and discussions. Finally, the handbook notes the basis on which a cadet can be terminated, including various kinds of misconduct, of which harassment is one.
On the first day of training, the Commanding Officer of Depot addresses the cadets, emphasizing the mission, vision and values, as well as expectations of the cadets, including inappropriate behaviour, such as harassment. As part of the classroom training, cadets are required to complete the Online Harassment Test with a passing mark of 70%. In addition, multiple sessions throughout the training touch upon harassment prevention and awareness. Respectful workplace issues, including harassment, clearly form part of the Cadet Training Program.
Once cadets complete their training and are assigned to a post, they, as new members, are required to complete the Field Coaching Program. Throughout the field coaching period, members are expected to meet the competencies expressed in the RCMP's core values. They are given information regarding the Employee Assistance Program and the Staff Relations Representative Program in order to educate them in respect of assistance available to RCMP employees for personal, social, health and work-related issues. In addition, Field Coaches must successfully complete a Field Coach Course prior to receiving a new member. The Field Coach Course contains an Ethical Messaging session which addresses harassment in the workplace and includes scenario-based learning.
Once induction programs are completed, additional harassment training opportunities are to be provided. According to the RCMP's current harassment policy:
Management will provide all employees with learning opportunities relating to harassment in the workplace. New employees, supervisors and managers must attend harassment awareness sessions as early as practicable after their appointment.
The policy goes on to note that every RCMP employee can "... expect ... to receive information and learning opportunities relating to harassment awareness prevention and resolution ...." Furthermore, supervisors and managers are responsible for ensuring that "... training/information related to a respectful workplace is received by all employees," and "... when assuming a managerial role, request harassment awareness training for employees if not already provided ...." The Commission was not provided with information related to such awareness training or learning opportunities, nor was information available regarding the extent to which, if any, supervisors and managers incorporate harassment awareness or prevention into regular staff meetings.
The Commission, however, was provided with training material regarding the Supervisor Development Program, the Manager Development Program, and the Officer Orientation Development Course. All three of these programs contain workplace relations and/or a harassment module as part of the classroom component.
The training materials reinforce both Treasury Board and RCMP policies on harassment. The messaging to supervisors, managers and officers is clear: harassment will not be tolerated; immediate action must be taken to investigate alleged incidents of harassment; and harassment is preventable.
In terms of the Supervisor Development Program, launched in 2009, its stated purpose is to "... develop the knowledge, skills and competencies of all three categories of employees (RM, CM, PS) working in a supervisory role within the RCMP." It is a 12-month national program which includes 10 days of classroom-based training. The remainder of the training occurs in the participants' home units, with divisional support and monitoring. The 10-day classroom component includes a 5-hour module on Ethics, a 4-hour module on Managing and Documenting Performance, and a 3-hour module on a Respectful Workplace. In these sessions, participants:
- review RCMP and Treasury Board policies on harassment;
- discuss elements of a respectful workplace, including what may or may not constitute harassment; and
- engage in role-plays of harassment-related scenarios.
The focus is on the role and responsibilities of the Supervisor, including:
- leading by example;
- being aware of ongoing relations in the work unit;
- maintaining open communication;
- harassment prevention; and
- taking action when necessary, whether that be through early resolution or the formal complaint process.
Participants must also return to their workplaces and deliver a respectful workplace activity.
Similarly, the Manager Development Program, also launched in 2009, is designed to develop the skill, knowledge and competencies of all three categories of employees working in a management role. According to the Program Training Standard, the target audience for the Manager Development Program is "... employees working or preparing to work for the first time as managers, or persons specifically identified for developmental reasons." The program duration and design mirror that of the Supervisor Development Program, including a 10-day classroom phase. There are:
- a 5-hour module regarding the motivational value system, including how to deal with workplace conflict and harassment;
- a 6-hour module regarding ethics for managers;
- a 4-hour module on building a healthy workplace; and
- a 1-hour module specifically focused on harassment.
The teaching methods employed include lectures, seminars and scenario-based training. At the end of the classroom phase, participants are expected to develop a Performance Improvement Plan for their home units, which will be evaluated by their supervisors and course facilitators. The intent is for participants to demonstrate that they have retained, transferred and successfully applied the classroom learning.
In the Harassment Module, the facilitator presents a deck which outlines the manager's responsibilities, including how to prevent harassment, and how to deal with an incident should one occur. Emphasis is placed on early resolution. The deck concludes with a slide on the effects of failing to act in a harassment situation and a stern statement that "[i]t is simply not acceptable behaviour from a manager and leader in the RCMP to let these situations continue once you become aware of [them]."
Finally, the Officer Orientation Development Course, redesigned in 2011, contains a 200-minute module which includes presentations regarding "Mental Health in the Workplace" and "Respectful Workplace", both of which contain elements of dealing with harassment. In addition to deck presentations and scenario-based training, participants are provided with numerous handouts, including relevant policies, procedures and responsibilities. The training provides an overview of harassment policies, what constitutes harassment (including examples), and what the responsibilities of the officer are. Unlike the Supervisor and Manager Development Programs, which address harassment prevention, the Officer Orientation Development Course focuses more on identifying harassing behaviour and the process for dealing with such behaviour. The clear message to participants is that it is their responsibility to address alleged incidents of harassment. All newly commissioned officers are expected to complete the Officer Orientation Development Course.
It is apparent that harassment prevention and awareness are part of the cadet training for regular members as well as part of the formal training for supervisors, managers and officers. While it cannot be expected that training will, in all cases, address underlying attitudes, it should adequately convey what standards of behaviour are desirable and expected, as well as emphasize the responsibility of colleagues, supervisors and managers to address situations that they witness or become aware of.
The principles expressed in the course training materials echo and respond to those outlined above and taken from the relevant literature and the programs of like organizations in terms of desirable practices with respect to harassment prevention training. This notwithstanding, training is only effective so long as it is able to be delivered to a critical mass of employees. While all new members attend the Cadet Training Program and complete the Field Coaching Program, neither the Supervisor Development Program nor the Manager Development Program are mandatory prior to assuming either a supervisory or management position. Since 2009, 1,872 employees have entered the Supervisor Development Program, and of those, 699 have completed it. In that time period, 699 employees have entered the Manager Development Program, while 276 have completed it. The Officer Orientation Development Course was completed by 62 participants in 2012 and, given the requirement to complete it upon being commissioned, there remains a backlog of officers yet to complete the course.
While the total number of RCMP employees considered to be supervisors and managers was unavailable, it is apparent given the size of the organization that a total of 975 employees having completed the course does not represent a significant proportion of the overall complement of those at a supervisory or management level. It was equally apparent from the submissions received and interviews conducted by the Commission that employees were unhappy with the manner in which their supervisors addressed their harassment complaints, and that the manner in which the complaints were addressed was inconsistent.
Accordingly, the Commission recommends that all supervisors and managers, upon appointment, be required to complete a relevant training program addressing workplace conflict and harassment within a set time of assuming their responsibilities. Compliance with the delivery of such required training should be centrally monitored and regularly and publicly reported on.
Recommendation No. 9: That all supervisors and managers, upon appointment, be required to complete a relevant training program addressing workplace conflict and harassment within a set time of assuming their responsibilities.
With respect to continual training and education for all employees, as required by the RCMP's policy and a key element to creating a healthy workplace, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the RCMP implemented mandatory harassment training for all employees in 2005. Due to the geographical extent and diversity of the RCMP, it was determined that the most effective way to ensure full compliance with such training was through e-learning. Currently, every RCMP employee must complete an online harassment module on a single occasion. The compliance rate with such training is close to 100%, which is exemplary given the requirement that the module be delivered even to part-time and occasional employees, such as jail guards. However, it is difficult to conclude that an online module, however comprehensive, offered on a single occasion, responds to the imperative of continual training. Accordingly, the Commission recommends that the online module, which should address workplace conflict including harassment, be delivered on a regular basis.
Recommendation No. 10: That the online training module, which should address workplace conflict including harassment, be delivered on a regular basis.