Causes of con-res and harassment policy and protocol failure
It’s common enough for collectives, organizations, workplaces, etc to have harassment policy, conflict resolution policy, and human resources policies. These policies are meant to be utilized when conflict or harm arises, and complaints are filed. But too often, groups (workers, organizers, management, leadership, departments, etc) end up unable to follow through and successfully execute their previously agreed upon policy, and why is that?
In my experience, it is often a result of a few things.
So I am sharing with you the trends I’ve noticed in the hopes that it offers those struggling in this area some insight.
When policies and protocols are created, they do not realistically take into account: the amount of capacity that is needed to put it, in the way of TIME, ENERGY, RESOURCES. Often those are the top three things groups lack. Additionally, these 3 major requirements are commonly not prioritized towards dealing with harm and conflict. For example: the ‘work’ is more important, the cause is important, the bottom line is more important, the external image is more important, and so forth.
Unaddressed power dynamics and oppressive bias.
This is a big one. Often within these policies/protocols, power dynamics are not acknowledged OR power dynamics are not addressed within the protocol/policy itself. Additionally, there are often anti-discrimination policies or equal opportunity protocols that somehow just don’t make their way into our harassment/con-res policies, This is problematic given that harmful biases are cause for a lot internal conflict, and cause the majority of workplace harm.
No acknowledgement of the existing environment/culture.
What is the overall culture of the group/org/workplace? Is it one of fear? Avoidance? Perfectionism? So often, policy and protocol are written as if they exist for a completely different group. People are not honest about addressing the real environment and culture they work in. Policy should try to reflect the reality of the environment and be realistic rather than idealistic.
Whoever made the policy and protocol is completely removed from the realities of the group.
Often third parties write or consult on these policies but do not actually experience working or organizing within these environments. Whoever is writing the policy should be auditing the realities of the group and all those moving throughout the space. Additionally, everyone who actually works or organizes within the space should be aware of what the policy and protocol are. Most of the time most people have no idea or they skimmed it when signing their contract and then never looked at it ever again.
So there you go! Those are some of the trends I’ve noticed, and perhaps you have to.
For groups or organizations or HR departments that need support (or just some guidance) with their harassment or conflict resolution policies, you can get in touch and book a consulting session. Escalation often happens when policies cannot actually handle the realities of a situation and those affected feel unheard or minimized. This results in higher turnover and hostile/unsafe environments (not to mention continued cycles of conflict and harm).