What HR Professionals Need to Know About People Management, Sexual Harassment, the Law, and Internal Investigations
Today’s Walkout for Real Change by Google employees offers an opportune time to highlight a new human resources course, Ethics in Managing People at Work. The companywide “women’s walk” walkout is a reaction to “the search giant’s protection of employees that had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct, according to four people familiar with the situation inside Google” according to BuzzFeed – and may be a turning point in Silicon Valley company culture. It was noted that one executive, Andy Rubin, was given a $90 million payment upon leaving Google, even after a company investigation found that the claim of his alleged sexual misconduct was credible. Google has been in the news of late with regard to a number of people-management issues, including opposition to a sexist culture at Google, retention of people of color, and the anti-diversity memo authored by then Google employee James Damore. The #metoo movement and a report that exposed problems with the male-to-female ratio and compensation inequality across the tech industry have focused attention on people-management problems and ethical dilemmas.
In this environment, human resources professionals need to know how to deal with alleged crimes and unethical actions caused by sexism, racism, biases of all sorts and various abuses of power – and find ways to prevent them from happening. Golden Gate University is committed to teaching relevant skills that are timely, such as conducting investigations, improving company culture and attracting ethical people.
Google Walkout for Real Change Demands
Ethics & People-Management
The Ethics in Managing People at Work course was designed Dr. Marianne Koch, Associate Dean of the Ageno School of Business and Human Resources Management Program Director, and developed by lawyer and Senior Adjunct Professor Tom Cushing, Esq. In this up-to-the-moment class, students study situations and dilemmas from work organizations, like today’s Google walkout, and learn to critique approaches to handling tough situations that roil companies.
The class teaches how to conduct an internal review of policies and provides a toolkit to help make ethical decisions in a work environment. Students also will be exposed to relevant state, federal, and local law; the latest research on topics such as unconscious bias; and official Ethics Topics as outlined by the Society for Human Resource Management. Hiring or lobbying for diversity managers can be part of the solution. In fact, one of the five demands of the Walkout is for a Chief Diversity Officer (see above) who reports directly to the CEO. This and other potential solutions are considered in this new course.
Dr. Marianne Koch & Ongoing Commitment to Ethics
Marianne Koch’s concern with teaching HR ethics predates the new class. Ethical issues permeate all courses in the MS in Human Resources Management degree program. Koch wrote on Sexual Harassment Training and a Culture of Respect which is also relevant to today’s action. This is an important dimension of the new class, which looks at the complete people-management picture in greater depth.
“Work organizations must demand and model ethical behavior from managers and individual contributors alike,“ Koch says. “We need discussions and clarity on what ethical conduct looks like and how we create and enforce it. I see this as an urgent need today. This is why we have an entire course on the ethical management of people at work.”
Knowing the law
HR’s role in corporate culture
Tools to prevent or solve problems
Conducting an ethics investigation
Working with complainants and the accused
Attracting Ethical Employees
Ethics in Managing People at Work is offered in the Graduate Certificate in Human Resources and the Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management programs. We invite you to contact us for more information.