Does Online Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Work?

sexual harassment prevention

Does Online Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Work?

Rochelle van Rensburg | Jul, 15 2020

Does online sexual harassment prevention training work?

Yes, if you need a short answer, keep reading for a detailed discussion.

Online sexual harassment prevention, referred to as SHP training, is a great way to teach employees what not to do and the repercussions of doing something disgusting in the workplace. SHP courses aim to increase awareness and accuracy of recognizing sexual harassment and inform employees about the organization’s handling of complaints. It also seeks to improve workers’ understanding of unlawful sexual assault and its detrimental effect on staff.

Online SHT and SHT software are available in all shapes and sizes: it may be experiential and may include video, games, group discussions, or lectures. Since SHP courses are diverse in their methods and delivery, they must not be uniformly defined. Nevertheless, given the popularity of SHP courses, it remains important to question their effectiveness.

But these questions remain intact:

  • Are SHP courses effective and efficient methods to minimize sexual misconduct at work?
  • How SHP courses can effectively increase awareness around sexual assault?

This blog will discuss the effectiveness of online SHP training with other types of workplace education. But first, let’s talk stats:


With the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, conversations about preventing harassment in workplaces have come to light in the media and organizations.

  1. Canadian study showed that 43% of women and 12% of men were sexually assaulted at work. 

  2. Another survey showed that 64% of women and 53% of men agree that sexual assault exists in their workplaces.

  3. In the United States, SHP courses in the workforce contribute to $10 billion in business, and five states specifically mandate workers to have online SHT to prevent abuse of employees.

  4. In a study commissioned by the Canadian government in 2017, 43% of survey respondents reported having undergone SHP courses in their workplaces.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is illegal. It can also be called “gender discrimination.” It happens when someone treats you differently based on your gender or sexual orientation and makes you feel uncomfortable for no reason.

For example:

  • A man who takes photos up the skirt of a woman at work;
  • A woman being asked out by her boss even though she doesn’t want to date him; or
  • Being called “sweetie” by a coworker

What is Anti-harassment training?

AHT/ SHT is a mechanism against harassment that helps prevent people from engaging in unethical behaviors at work, in the factory, in school, or anywhere else. This kind of training includes:

  • what sexual harassment means;
  • how people deal with it;
  • ways to prevent committing it

Related article: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training In The United States—2022

Is sexual harassment training effective?

Yes, definitely! SHP training is effective. It leads to increased reporting and reduced victim-blaming. And we are not just saying it. We are backing it up with the evidence.

Evidence indicates that the number of sexual harassment complaints in companies has increased after online SHT, suggesting that complainants are more willing to come forward.

Moreover, it may be effective in mobilizing witnesses. Many people may think that the primary objective of SHP training courses is to reduce perpetrators’ behavior and increase targets’ willingness to report complaints.

But research shows that SHP courses can work most effectively through bystanders. Bystander intervention training can improve witnesses’ intentions to intervene, trust in intervention, and intervention levels.

For one report, workers who obtained instruction believed that unwelcome physical movements, contact, and date coercion constitute sexual abuse. Recognizing what qualifies as sexual assault is a significant step toward cultural reform. 

However, sexual harassment training is not a one-time thing—it’s an ongoing process. And so, the organization must focus on building training in an interactive, engaging, relevant, and fun way. It will help employees learn things more easily.

Furthermore, good communication and understanding of the effects of sexual harassment on employees can benefit the entire organization.

online training

Why do companies need SHP training?

There are many reasons why companies should invest in SHP training. Some of them are:

  • It helps employees understand what sexual harassment is and how they can report it if they see it happening at work.
  • It helps employees avoid sexual harassment themselves and how to resolve any problems that arise if they encounter it.
  • SHP builds a clear understanding of the consequences of engaging in sexual behavior without consent. Civil suits against perpetrators can result in hefty fines or even jail time for those convicted of this workplace violence!

Do companies need to provide SHP training?

Yes, it is a legal requirement. It’s also a good idea to provide SHP Training (SHP) to your employees and those who interact with them. SHP can help prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place. It further reduces the risk of legal action against companies that have experienced it.

Are you required to provide online harassment prevention training?

The answer is no; you are not required to provide workplace harassment training. However, it does allow employees to bring civil claims based on the failure of their employer to provide such training.

For Employees:

If your company does offer an online SHP course and you choose not to take advantage of it, you may still be able to sue your employer for failure-to-train claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

However, if there’s no requirement for employers in your state or locality where you work—or even nationally—to offer such courses at all times, then this would probably be considered something that falls outside what could be regarded as part of everyday business practices.

Thus, if there wasn’t any state or local policy surrounding this matter, then technically speaking, nothing would happen when someone didn’t follow through with taking advantage.

How often should we provide online SHP training?

There is no right answer to how often you should provide online SHP training. The answer depends on your:

  • employee training requirement
  • organization’s culture;
  • goals and objectives for the training programs

The first thing to consider before you train employees is whether you have an annual or bi-annual training schedule in place. If so, we recommend that you continue using that same schedule unless there are specific reasons (e.g., budget) why it makes sense for your organization to change its schedule at this time.

On the other hand, if your company does not have an established training plan. Instead, they rely on periodic meetings with employees or managers who need guidance about preventing sexual harassment in their workplace. If this is so, perhaps now would be as good a time as any before launching anything new!

Does online sexual harassment training work?

Yes, online training works. Online workplace training can help put everyone on the same page about what constitutes harassment. It simultaneously provides people with the language and tools to address it.

But there’s a condition for online SHT to work. It must be interactive and engaging. It should not just be a lecture or presentation you listen to passively. Instead, it should be an opportunity for participants to ask questions. It should engage participants with one another for them to learn about:

  • what their company culture looks like;
  • how they can prevent sexual harassment from happening in their workplace (or at least when it does happen).

The training also needs reinforcement from management. If there are no consequences for bad behavior, people will continue doing whatever they want without any consequence whatsoever, and that’s not good!

So this may seem obvious here (because who wants their employees misbehaving?). Yet, we want everyone reading this article which cares about creating positive change within their organization to know what sexual harassment is. Please ensure your managers know exactly what kind of behaviors aren’t allowed in company time/space so they can take action accordingly when necessary.

End Note

The fact remains—even though the issue of sexual harassment needs to be addressed and handled from many angles, effective online sexual harassment training still has its place in the big picture.

If you are a company that provides online SHP training, Coggno is where you can find an extensive list of sexual harassment prevention courses. You can look at our free harassment courses here and our course catalog here.

If you have any questions regarding training, please feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help!

Frequently Asked Questions

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