Behavior Analysis of Sexual Harassment Reporting

Photo by Ilya Yakover on Unsplash

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Reports of sexual harassment have become disturbingly common in recent news. Though we are seeing a rapid culture shift around reporting sexual harassment, for many it has come too late. We need to support the reporting of abuse in all forms and protect those who might be silenced. In recent news, we have learned that, in many cases of sexual harassment, powerful individuals have abused many other people over long periods of time. The organizations in which these individuals worked, fellow leaders, and employees, have often delayed or avoided reporting situations until someone steps out and takes a significant risk to their own wellbeing in order to seek justice.

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As leaders, we have a duty to protect those with less power. We have a duty to create contexts that support speaking out so that abuse and harassment ends. People deserve basic respect, safety, and equality in their working environment and social relationships.

In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett DiNovi, BCBA, discusses the contingencies that are likely responsible for recent shifts towards reporting and those that maintain silence and discourage reporting of abuse. Brett points out the high likelihood of immediate social punishment for those reporting against powerful individuals and, unfortunately, the low likelihood of appropriate measures being taken against their aggressors. Brett proposes that this situation is better addressed when leaders take care to support an environment where reporting of issues is rewarded. At Brett DiNovi & Associates, this is done in part by weekly status check-ins with employees to assure that any issues are resolved. This is likely part of the reason why the company demonstrates much lower rates of turnover than the industry standard.

In addition to the methods Brett discusses in his video, and lives by in his organization, we propose that additional measures may best realign contingencies in favor of equality and safety in organizations. Flattening of the power dynamics that silence reporters and allowing patterns of discomfort to arise with “big data” monitoring within the organization lessens the requirement for individuals to speak out.  By examining the sentiment and relational patterns around powerful leaders, we can detect patterns of behavior that should be addressed before they lead to trauma and organizational, as well as personal, losses.

To hear more, be sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to recieve the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at brett@brettdassociates.com

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