Harassment and Restorative Justice in Business and at Work


In her Golden Globe acceptance speech last week, Laura Dern urged the promotion of restorative justice as part of the process of addressing, among other issues, workplace harassment and abuse.

Mediation geeks like me were thrilled to hear Restorative Justice mentioned:

Restorative Justice (RJ)  is a next-level mediation process focused on problem-resolution between those who cause harm, and those who have been harmed.  It is a voluntary process for all parties.

I was trained as an RJ facilitator several years ago at the Skidmore College Project on Restorative Justice. As I took the training, I immediately saw potential application for a harasser to repair the harm caused to a harassment victim.

Below is an overview graphic from the Skidmore RJ Project website:

 

Or:

  • That when harm is done, the focus is on the harm that has been done to people and relationships
  • When harm is done, it creates obligations and liabilities
  • The way forward involves those who caused harm, victims and the community in efforts to heal the harm and put things right.

The Twitter exchange as covered by the New York Times last week between a remorseful harasser (Dan Harmon) who years ago through his workplace harassment harmed a woman he supervised who rebuffed his romantic advances (Megan Ganz) is RJ in motion (highlighted in blue, below) in the larger community:

 

I also never wanted to bring your name into it because you had a right to your own career and narrative and the thing I regretted most was impinging on that. I’d done it enough. So I kept it anonymous but have warned everyone, don’t do what I did. Be aware of power dynamics.

Since RJ is a voluntary process, it’s not the answer for all incidents of harassment. However, in the above example, the willingness of Harmon to authentically be accountable for his actions; authentically express remorse; and most importantly, be a teacher for others in positions of power to learn from his example and be aware when in the past he was not and consequently caused harm to Ganz – provided not only vindication for Ganz, but also tremendous relief. And in that RJ exchange lies the hope that they – and the rest of us – can move forward productively, leaving shame and marginalization in the past as a lesson learned and taken to heart.

What other ways can Restorative Justice repair the harm caused by harassment in business and at work?

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