Back Away from the Mistletoe: Holiday Parties Get Post-Weinstein Makeover

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 8, 2017
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The company Christmas party is likely to be a bit more restrained this year, with headlines of allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace uppermost in many people's minds. In reaction to this, some organizations are cutting back on alcohol at these functions or offering more food. At one organization, an HR professional will troll hallways, check secluded areas and try to watch for people who look like they are stuck in an uncomfortable situation.

SHRM Online has collected stories on what some organizations are doing to keep the holiday festivities fun, but mannerly.  

Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose Just Killed the Office Christmas Party 

In 2009, the lack of office holiday party shindigs was largely due to financial constraints amid the recession; this year it's thanks, in part to the "Weinstein effect," says Andrew Challenger vice president of the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But killing the office party merely addresses one situation in which sexual harassment might happen, rather than trying to abolish the behavior before it starts.
(Moneyish)   

Companies Are Cutting Back on Holiday Party Booze Amid Sexual Harassment Scandals 

With a series of high-profile workplace sex scandals on their minds, employers are making sure their holiday office parties don't become part of the problem. There will be less booze at many. An independent business organization has renewed its annual warning not to hang mistletoe. And some will have party monitors who keep an eye out for inappropriate behavior. 
(Time

[SHRM members-only resources and tools: Holiday Party Memo]    

Employers Becoming More Sensitive to Inappropriate Behavior at Office Parties: Expert  

Heightened awareness of workplace sexual harassment in the wake of recent allegations is leading some Canadian companies to limit potentially inappropriate behavior as they plan office holiday parties, some human resources experts say.
(Global News)  

'Let Them Dance…But Not Too Close': Welcome to the Post-Weinstein Holiday Party  

Companies aim to avert problem behavior at office parties with a list of 'don'ts' and by eliminating open bars. FCB Worldwide Inc., for example, isn't mincing any words detailing the kind of behavior that could land employees in trouble at the ad agency's various holiday parties this season. 
(Wall Street Journal)  

Food Fights, Brawls and Sprains—Get a Grip on Your Holiday Party

For HR managers, the annual holiday party can be a tremendous opportunity. It can help co-workers get to know one another, make staff feel appreciated, and just allow people to unwind after a long year.It's the "unwind" part that can cause consternation for HR and, in some cases, the lawyers who have to sort out the post-party fallout.  Advice for keeping workplace festivities sane.

(SHRM Online

Silicon Valley Is Sneaking Models Into This Year's Holiday Parties 

While other organizations are taking a more restrained approach to their holiday parties this year, Silicon Valley will be hiring "ambiance and atmosphere models" who are contractually obligated to pretend they're party guests and mingle with the employees, most of whom are male engineers. While this sounds crazy after a year packed with harrowing stories of sexual harassment, abuse, and discrimination, a record number of tech companies are quietly paying $50 to $200 an hour for each model hired to chat up attendees. 
(Bloomberg)   

Sexual Harassment and the Christmas Party 

Christmas parties are festive occasions, but alcohol abuse, proximity to colleagues that leads to inappropriate behavior can create a troubling atmosphere. It is imperative that employers take proactive action to limit the risk of harassment. 
(Huffington Post blog)  

How to Avoid Sexual Harassment at the Office Christmas Party 

Workplace parties and events are notorious for facilitating unwelcome sexual attention and predatory behaviors. In response, organizations such as the London, England-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for HR managers, offers training events on how to "manage" Christmas gaiety in the workplace. Meanwhile, independent advisory and legal firms provide procedural guidelines for employers during the festive season.
(The Conversation)   

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