Brian Rubineau and Nazampal Jaswal
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Universities use formal policies not only to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault, but also to prevent future incidents. This article integrates an analysis of the legal evolution of campus policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault in the U.S. and Canada with a targeted review of relevant topics within the management and organizations literature. Based on this synthesis of research examining organizational diversity initiatives, organizational culture, culture change, and safety culture, we challenge the perspective that university policies are an appropriate tool for sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention. Achieving both goals — responsiveness and prevention — requires distinct approaches. Towards this end, we propose a hybrid strategy that requires the separation of policies designed to respond to incidents ex post, from approaches seeking to prevent further incidents ex ante. Successful prevention requires culture change, and culture change requires a broader range of integrated efforts — organized around an encompassing goal such as mutual respect — than is practical to codify within sexual harassment or sexual assault policies.
Les universite ́s utilisent des politiques officielles non seulement pour re ́pondre aux incidents de harce`lement sexuel et d’agression sexuelle, mais aussi afin de pre ́venir de futurs incidents. Dans cet article, les auteurs inte`grent une analyse de l’e ́volution juridique des politiques des campus concernant le harce`lement sexuel et l’agression sexuelle aux E ́tats-Unis et au Canada, avec un examen cible ́ de sujets pertinents dans la litte ́rature sur la gestion et les organisations. Sur la base de cette synthe`se de recherche examinant les initiatives de diversite ́ organisationnelle, la culture organisationnelle, le changement culturel et la culture de se ́curite ́, les auteurs remettent en question le fait que les politiques universitaires sont un outil approprie ́ en matie`re de pre ́vention de harce`lement sexuel et d’agressions sexuelles. Atteindre les deux objectifs de la capacite ́ d’intervention et de la pre ́vention ne ́cessite des approches distinctes. A` cette fin, ils proposent une strate ́gie hybride qui ne ́cessite la se ́paration des politiques conc ̧ues pour re ́pondre aux incidents apre`s les faits, des approches visant a` pre ́venir d’autres incidents au pre ́alable. Une pre ́vention re ́ussie ne ́cessite un changement de culture, et le changement de culture ne ́cessite une gamme plus large d’efforts inte ́gre ́s, organise ́s autour d’un objectif englobant comme le respect mutuel, que ce qu’il est possible de codifier dans les politiques de harce`lement sexuel ou d’agression sexuelle.
Campus sexual harassment and sexual assault are enduring and pervasive problems facing universities. One dominant university-level response to this issue is the development of university policies designed specifically to address sexual harassment and sexual assault. These policies tend to focus on the process and procedures by which a university and its members respond to an incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault ex post. In addition to providing guidance for university responses to incidents of harassment or assault, such policies are often viewed as contributing to the prevention of further incidents of harassment or assault.
This article brings in scholarship from management literature — concerning organizational diversity initiatives, organizational culture, culture change, and safety culture — to challenge the perspective that university policies are an appropriate tool for sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention. Some elements that are important for policies regarding responses to such incidents are the same elements that render the policies impotent for campus culture change. For example, policies commonly define the types of behaviours to be prevented and focus on organizational responses to these behaviors when they occur. Although wholly sensible for responsive policies, this narrow focus is inconsistent with prevention. Prevention requires identifying antecedents and precursors, and intervening in a more comprehensive manner.
To illustrate the distinction between response-oriented and prevention- oriented policies, consider the case of serious sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis. In the event of evidence of new cases of an STI, public health organizations have response protocols with the goal of both containing the outbreak and ensuring the proper treatment of affected individuals. These response protocols are narrow, specific, and triggered episodically in the event of an outbreak. The prevention protocols for STIs are distinct from their response protocols, and are more broad, varied, and encompassing. A broad range of education, screening, service provision, media campaigns, and the provision of barrier technologies (e.g., condoms) working in concert can be effective tools for preventing a wide range of STIs5 but they also overlap with a host of other health and hygiene efforts such as those dealing with planned pregnancy. Both response and prevention efforts are necessary and complement each other, but their associated scopes of activity are quite different. Expecting the STI-response protocol to also yield effective prevention outcomes would be folly. The dominant single-policy-based approach to reducing campus sexual harassment and sexual assault resembles an attempt to do so using only response-based policies.
After presenting the fundamental contradictions within policies created in response to sexual harassment and sexual assault and approaches that can help to prevent the same, we present an argument for using a hybrid strategy. A hybrid strategy relieves policies designed to respond to incidents ex post from the burden of also preventing further incidents ex ante. As the management literature illustrates, successful prevention requires culture change, and culture change requires a broader range of integrated efforts than is practical to codify within sexual harassment or sexual assault strategies.
2. Campus Policies: First Response, Then Prevention
(a) Policy Content
Canadian campus sexual assault policies have been influenced by the North American legal and social contexts involving not only universities, but also workplaces and public institutions. In U.S. workplaces, sexual harassment policies have been highly influenced by a small number of legal cases. The 1998 Faragher6 and Burlington7 cases established what organizations needed to do to help separate organizational liability for incidents of sexual harassment from employee liability. Organizations that develop and disseminate a sexual harassment policy may not be liable for harassment that takes place among employees within the organization. A later case, Clark v. UPS,8 went further to define specifically what elements are required in a sexual harassment policy for the liability protections established in Faragher. Clark identified the following four elements: (1) a requirement that supervisors report incidents of sexual harassment; (2) the creation of both informal and formal avenues for reporting incidents of sexual harassment; (3) a method for bypassing a supervisor when reporting harassment; and (4) a requirement to provide training about the sexual harassment policy itself to employees.
For workplaces, an important goal of sexual harassment policies is to protect the organization from liability. The procedures are what the organization needs to do following an event, and the training and education requirement is not about harassment itself, but about the policy. There is no clear prevention element in sexual harassment policies.
Importantly, this history underlying U.S. workplace sexual harassment policies is reflected in university sexual harassment policies. In their study of online sexual harassment policy information at U.S. universities, Fusilier and Penrod9 found that of the 425 not-for-profit universities with sexual harassment policies, each of the four elements specified in the Clark decision could be found in a majority of the policies examined.
The fourth element in Clark is training, and specifically, training about the policy itself. Universities often provide a wider range of sexual harassment- related training with the hope and goal that such training may play a role in preventing future events. However, that goal differs from the original intent for a training element in sexual harassment policies, and both theoretical and empirical evidence (described below) challenges the idea that training is an effective tool for preventing sexual harassment or sexual assault. Fusilier and Penrod found that 72 per cent of American not-for-profit universities with sexual harassment policies accessible online also mentioned training activities related to the policy.10
Although both the legal and university contexts highlighted so far are within the United States, we have observed similar tendencies in Canada. In our study of sexual harassment and sexual assault policies across Canadian universities,11 we found that 29 of 38 policies examined (76%) mentioned a training element.
Although Canadian universities have a legal context distinct from U.S. universities, both the international nature of higher education and the particular interdependencies between the U.S. and Canada mean that conformity pressures regarding policy and practice span the political border. For example, Canadian universities and U.S. universities often share the same accreditation bodies for their professional schools. The American Bar Association accredits U.S. and Canadian law schools, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accredits U.S. and Canadian medical schools, Engineers Canada has a bilateral mutual recognition agreement with the U.S.-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has a reciprocal agreement with the U.S.-based American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Most of these organizations include explicit statements regarding the responsibility of members to provide safe and inclusive learning environments. Beyond sharing similar laws,12 Canadian and U.S. universities share a variety of formal institutional interdependencies and informal expectations from shared constituencies that prompt similarities in their policies and practices.
Although these forces promote similarities in university policies and practices between Canada and the U.S., some important and instructive differences exist. Whereas the U.S. federal government issued Title IX mandating academic institutions to ensure no student is discriminated against on the basis of sex, including addressing sexual violence, no such power to do so exists in Canada. In the Canadian context, education falls squarely within provincial powers.13 While many universities may have individual policies to address sexual violence among the campus community, most provincial governments — with the notable exception of Ontario — at this point in time do not typically require universities to have and enforce policies to this effect. Instead, a set of legal decisions based upon the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have shaped and influenced policy decisions in Canadian universities. In the Ross14 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada established school districts have the obligation to provide a safe and “poison free environment”. We contend that this responsibility should likewise extend to all educational institutions including universities. Much of the focus in fulfilling this obligation has been directed toward providing opportunities for complainants to have reasonable recourse. But the trends in both legal decisions and university practice have been towards more expansive and encompassing interpretations of the range of behaviours required to provide a safe and poison-free learning environment. These trends point to the growing importance of prevention considerations, even though there has been little guidance as to the activities that are likely to successfully prevent the emergence of a poisoned environment.
Ross was a high school teacher who distributed anti-Semitic material outside his classroom hours. Parents of students in his class filed a human rights complaint against the school board arguing that Ross’s position as a teacher at the school created a harmful environment for Jewish students. After the school board dismissed Ross, he brought a Charter challenge against their decision asserting that the board inadvertently infringed his right to free speech. In the watershed decision, the Court held that Ross’s freedom of speech outside the classroom was limited because school boards have a duty to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory learning environment and Ross’s role as a teacher had a significant impact on whether students felt safe at the school.15 In a later case, Mpega v. Universite ́ de Moncton, the Court determined that to assess the level of impact of conduct off school grounds on learning on school grounds, the court must ascertain what effects could be reasonably inferred from the instructor’s actions.16 Ross establishes that students are owed a safe learning environment, and the educational institution is within its rights to discipline conduct reasonably — even if off campus — if that conduct will result in a harmful environment for students.
University obligations towards creating a poison-free environment were expanded in the contexts of online harassment, off-campus harassment, and off- campus sexual assault perpetrated by other students in the Zhang,17 Jubran,18 and Mpega cases. In Mpega, when the university instituted disciplinary measures for a sexual assault committed off-campus by Mpega, a student, Mpega sued the school arguing: 1) that the school could not discipline him for off-campus conduct; and 2) that the conduct in question did not fall within the definition of sexual harassment stipulated in the policy. The court disagreed with Mpega on the territoriality question of the policy, although on appeal agreed that the nature of Mpega’s action fell outside the scope of the school policy. The school policy on student conduct explicitly applied to conduct off-campus and will apply to all members of the university community for the purpose of creating a safe learning environment free of harassment and sexual assault.19
These cases demonstrate that for the purpose of creating a poison-free environment, universities must consider external and remote threats, in addition to infractions taking place on campus. Does this requirement also entail obligations for universities to adopt and enact preventative measures to cultivate and protect a poison-free environment? The Mahmoodi and Jubran cases20 suggest that this is a likely direction for legal directives regarding university sexual harassment policies.
Mahmoodi involved a female student who was sexually assaulted by her professor at his home. The Mahmoodi decision makes two important relevant additions to case law. First, it establishes a reasonable rather than minimal recourse available to students from the university in the case of sexual harassment. Thus, in this case, the court assessed the university, step by step, on the reasonableness of its response to the complainant rather than assessing the university on whether recourse existed or not. Second, the court linked prevention efforts with university remedies for sexual harassment: “steps taken by the University to prevent or ameliorate the harm to Mahmoodi are relevant to remedy, but they do not obviate the University’s liability.”21 Thus, while the university’s liability to a complainant remains, the courts will also take notice of the university’s efforts in preventing the offence.
Despite this tendency towards creating a prevention obligation on Canadian universities, the guidelines and expectations for sexual harassment and sexual assault policies remain response focused. For example, as part of the “It’s Never Okay” action plan to address campus sexual violence, Ontario recently introduced Bill 132, Schedule 322 requiring universities to have and implement a sexual violence policy:
(3) Every college or university described in subsection (2) shall have a sexual violence policy that,
(a) addresses sexual violence involving students enrolled at the college or university; (b) sets out the process for how the college or university will respond to and address incidents and complaints of sexual violence involving students enrolled at the college or university, and includes the elements specified in the regulations relating to the process; (c) addresses any other topics and includes any other elements required by the regulations; and (d) otherwise complies with the requirements set out in the regulations.23 In addition to requiring implementation of the policy, Schedule 3 also mandates that universities include student input on the policy and review as well as revise accordingly the policy every three years.24 The response focus in Schedule 3 is clear.Canadian universities face a challenging dilemma. They are increasingly expected to be responsible for preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault from occurring, but receive direction regarding only responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault once they have occurred. The main purpose of this article is to provide initial guidance on the kinds of university-level prevention efforts that are likely to be successful by synthesizing the existing literature on organizational culture change from the management literature.
As with the American workplace sexual harassment policies, the Canadian university sexual harassment policies that we reviewed provide the most detail regarding procedures, obligations, and options for organizational members and administrators after an event has taken place. That is, policies offer the greatest specificity and dedicate the most text to responding to incidents of harassment or assault. This response includes modes and responsibilities for reporting.
It is becoming more common for policies to indicate the goal of preventing future incidents from occurring. The specificity for procedures for prevention in no way approaches that for response. Those that specify some prevention activities tend to enlist training and education activities towards that goal. Whether education and training programs can prevent future incidents of sexual assault is an empirical question.
(b) A Critical View of Training
There is insufficient empirical evidence to evaluate the efficacy of training approaches specifically to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault on university campuses. An arguably related context — training approaches to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace — has sufficient empirical evidence to warrant skepticism regarding the likely efficacy of this approach.25 Workplaces in the U.S. and Canada have decades worth of experience and evaluation efforts on diversity training and diversity outcomes.
Although this diversity- and inclusion-promoting training does not focus solely either on sexual harassment or sexual assault, it typically does engage with a range of behaviours that fall within the “Continuum of Sexual Violence”,26 such as discriminatory and disparate treatment, precisely because these behaviours are a threat to inclusive cultures. Also discussed is a more current perspective on the wide range of behaviours that can contribute to “rape culture” (see Garcia and Vemuri in this issue) including cyberbullying (see Shariff and Eltis in this issue).27
One comprehensive study comparing the diversity-related effects of a variety of diversity interventions over a period of more than 30 years across more than 700 organizations found diversity training to be the least effective method for achieving positive diversity outcomes.28 Several experimental evaluations of diversity training found diversity training to worsen diversity outcomes compared to control conditions with no training.29
Importantly, the scholarly pessimism about the effectiveness of diversity training for achieving organizational diversity goals applies to efforts that use diversity training alone. This same scholarship identifies that diversity training — when a part of larger, broader, and integrated efforts to promote diversity — can indeed yield substantive positive change. The same 30-year study of over 700 organizations found that organizations that adopt comprehensive restructuring around diversity see significant positive returns from diversity training.30 A meta-analysis of 178 empirical studies of the efficacy of diversity training in both workplaces and college campuses found that although the efficacy of stand-alone training cannot be confirmed, diversity training that was part of a broad and integrated effort has the greatest impact and promise.31 The key is: training cannot succeed in isolation.
These findings raise two questions: (1) what are likely to be effective prevention strategies? and (2) how should university sexual harassment policies be adapted for the purpose of the prevention goal? We examine and synthesize relevant scholarship from the management literature to answer these questions. Embedded within any strategy proposed to address a problem is a theory of the problem’s underlying cause.32 The training solution presumes a problem stemming from a lack of knowledge, awareness, or skills. If such a deficit is not the source of the problem, then training cannot be its solution. If a successful strategy for addressing campus sexual harassment and sexual assault resembles the successful examples from diversity scholarship, then a revision of organizational culture is necessary.33
If an environment is being poisoned metaphorically by a tree’s poisonous fruit, merely harvesting all the fruit from the tree will do little to prevent future poisonous fruit. The elimination of such fruit requires replacing the tree itself with one that does not produce the same fruit. Current campus policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault tend to focus on the process of removing the poisonous fruit. There is neither attention nor guidance for how to replace the tree producing this fruit. This article uses management scholarship as a source of insights for how to achieve a change in campus culture — that is, changing the tree — to prevent a poisoned environment.
Our synthesis suggests a hybrid solution for universities. Under this hybrid solution, formal policies are limited to their response role, and the prevention role is met via a broad and wide-ranging intervention that is not part of a formal sexual harassment and sexual assault policy.34
3. LESSONS FROM PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN
Another recent analysis of formal school policies revealed benefits from separating response policies from prevention policies. Jane Bailey examined the evolution of formal policies in the Ontario primary and secondary school system.35 She documented how the school policies in the 1990s often adopted a zero-tolerance approach to school violence and other disfavoured behaviours (e.g., carrying weapons or drugs). The zero-tolerance approach was intended to provide both clear guidance on how organizations needed to respond, and to serve as a prevention tool through deterrence.
In addition to being unsuccessful in achieving its main goals, the zero- tolerance approach had several negative unintended outcomes such as increasing inequality and having a discriminatory impact. As the formal policies in the school system were revised, the changes included more just and sensitive responses and a shift in the prevention efforts. Rather than trying to prevent negative behaviours through deterrence, the revised approach sought to identify the underlying causes of the negative behaviours and alter the conditions that enabled them.36 Referred to as the “safe and acceptance” approach, this shift reflects an expanding repertoire of proactive and preventative efforts that have become increasingly distinct from the responses to individual negative behaviour incidents.
The current approach towards preventing negative behaviours in schools is the “Shaping a Culture of Respect” approach37 that seeks to alter the entire school culture towards one that prevents negative and violent behaviours from occurring. Note that the prevention effort identifies the goal as a culture of respect rather than the prevention of specific negative behaviours. The scope is intentionally broad. A culture of respect does not merely address violence but bullying, incivility, disruptive learning environments, and more.
Two important lessons emerge from the evolution of formal policies in primary and secondary education: (1) organizational response efforts and organizational prevention efforts can be more successful when separated into distinct efforts; and (2) on the prevention side, to address the underlying causes of negative behaviours requires broad cultural change with a scope far broader than a particular set of extreme behaviours such as violence.
For additional insights into how the goal of broad cultural change towards the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault may be accomplished, we turn to the management and organizational literature. Our synthesis of this literature provides a proposal for university efforts to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents on campus.
4. MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVES
The management of organizations scholarship offers many useful ideas for how universities may be able to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault, and formal policies form only a small part of these insights. The management literature emphasizes that organizations have both formal and informal aspects, and that the informal aspects can have as strong or even stronger influences on organizations’ members’ behaviours as the formal aspects. Actual behaviours may be “decoupled”38 from formal policies such that misconduct can endure in the presence of clear and unambiguous policies and a facade of formal practices designed to eliminate such misconduct.39
Successful and enduring organizational change requires addressing both formal and informal aspects of organizational behaviour. In the absence of such broad and multi-pronged change efforts, decoupling dynamics can allow the deprecated behaviours to endure under a facade of formal compliance.
To address both formal and informal aspects of an organization in a manner that obviates decoupling is to change organizational culture itself. In this section, we provide a brief overview and discussion of a set of concepts from the management of organizations scholarship that are relevant for the goal of preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault on university campuses through changing organizational culture.
(a) Organizational Culture
In defining organizational culture in the domain of higher education, Tierney quotes Geertz, who states that “[m]an is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning.”40 This meaning-based definition of organizational culture is consistent with a definition currently dominant in the management literature — Alvesson’s view that organizational culture is “a system of common symbols and meanings.”41
Organizational culture is a broad concept giving rise to at least 54 distinct definitions.42 Rather than privilege a particular definition, we highlight a theme common across the culture change literature and one that is germane to the topic of changing culture to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault. This theme is the recursive relationship between culture and behaviour in organizations.43 Behaviours within an organization are intimately entwined with its organizational culture. Changes in organizational culture give rise to changes in organizational members’ behaviours, and systematic and patterned changes in organizational members’ behaviours can rewrite organizational culture. The practical behavioural implications of this theme — in both the culture-to- behavour and behaviour-to-culture directions — are important for reconsidering university approaches to the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault. In the direction of culture to behaviour, organizational culture directs and constrains the range of behaviours organizational members feel licensed to express. A culture that enables sexual harassment or sexual assault will also enable a broad range of milder behaviours that are likely to be more common and serve as useful sentinel behaviours regarding the culture.
In the direction of behaviour to culture, this recursive relationship also provides useful insights for how to change organizational culture. Organizational culture is not an entity that can be changed directly. It can be changed only through the observable behaviours of an organization’s members.44 Changes to organizational culture come from systematic and patterned changes in the members’ behaviours.
Organizational culture can be re-written only via the types of behaviours that reinforce and communicate the culture in the first place: mundane and everyday behaviours. In their dynamic model of organizational culture change, Howard- Grenville and colleagues45 suggest that although narrow and specific attempts to challenge existing culture are important for “seeding” the opportunity for change, actually achieving cultural change requires persistent day-to-day interactions “infused into rather than separated from everyday organizational life”.46 Alvesson describes a similar process as “everyday reframing”.47 Because everyday reframing is more closely connected to the negotiations of meaning that, in Alvesson’s view, defines culture, it is a stronger mode of cultural change than other approaches.48 The importance of everyday interactions and behaviours for defining and communicating culture extends to the particular case of university campuses. In his examination of culture and change in higher education, Tierney writes, “more often than not, individuals find meaning not from broad sweeping statements or events, but from the routine, microscopic aspects of everyday life.”49
In the context of campus sexual harassment and sexual assault, the focus has been more on the prevention of particular behaviours — those meeting policy definitions of harassment and assault. Current campus policies tend to ignore the common, everyday behaviours that are crucial in defining and communicating a culture that may tolerate or enable harassment or assault. Rather, these policies and, ideally, prevent. For insights about cultivating a culture that prevents specific behaviours, scholarship on high reliability organizations and safety cultures can help.
(b) High Reliability Organizations and Safety Culture
The management literature has paid particular attention to the lessons offered by what are known as High Reliability Organizations (HROs). Nuclear power plants, submarine crews, and air traffic control towers are examples of HROs. Despite their technical and organizational complexities, these organizations cannot afford to learn through the common trial-and-error or experimentation modes of organizational learning.50 In HROs, errors carry the potential for catastrophic consequences affecting the lives of many people beyond those directly involved in any particular error. HROs focus keenly on error prevention. This literature emphasizes the importance of organizational culture in either preventing or enabling accidents ranging in severity from mild to catastrophic.51 An organizational culture that successfully prevents errors can be called a “safety culture”.52
Successful safety cultures provide instructive models for organizations seeking to prevent harmful or damaging behaviours by its members. Many other organizations have sought to adopt and integrate some of the prevention- oriented practices that characterize safety cultures. Hospitals and other health care organizations have sought to leverage safety culture lessons to help prevent medical errors.53 Offshore oil drilling platforms are another organizational type that has sought to adapt and implement a safety culture.54
The safety culture scholarship offers important insights regarding effecting organizational culture change towards a prevention orientation. One such insight is the importance of attending to and addressing the more common and milder forms of the kinds of behaviours that are to be prevented. A tenet of the safety literature explicitly links mild events with the risk of severe events: “more frequent low-severity events may be indicators of the potential for high-severity events”, and “many small or less severe events precede a single large or serious one”.55 It is not necessarily the case that high-severity events are caused by low- severity ones, merely that the organizational conditions (e.g., climate or culture tolerating lax safety practices) that give rise to high-severity events (e.g., fatal accidents) are also likely to produce many more low-severity ones (e.g., incomplete safety inspections, non-compliance with safety practices), and thus the prevalence of the latter can be a useful indicator of the risk of the occurrence of the former.
The safety culture literature reveals two additional elements that are important for cultivating a prevention orientation, namely, creating conditions such that: (1) organizational members are both interdependent and invested in each other’s well-being and success (including that of other members, clients, and stakeholders); and (2) members feel empowered to raise concerns, respond to issues, and engage in mindful organizing in response to possible warning signs of errors or deprecated behaviours.56 That is, the creation of a safety culture involves all organizational members in their everyday actions. When attending to mild sentinel behaviours and events that could signal a potential opportunity for an error or failure, any members observing such an event will feel a personal commitment and obligation to act out of concern not only for themselves but for others as well, and they will feel empowered and safe in doing so. Such conditions are unlikely to be created and preserved by a formal policy or a training program.
Interestingly, some of the unique features of the organizations examined to understand safety cultures and HROs make them particularly well suited for comparisons with universities. Universities are workplaces for faculty, staff, administrators, and many students. Many undergraduate students also live and study within the university, making it a kind of “total institution”.57 Many HROs and safety-oriented organizations are similar total institutions requiring their members to live and work on site. Submarine crews58 and off-shore oil rigs59 are two notable examples, and the former are composed largely of members in a similar age category as university students.60
For universities seeking to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault rather than preventing errors or failures, what are the sentinel events, how can an inter-dependent and mutually supportive orientation be cultivated across campus, and how can campus members be empowered to organize and respond mindfully to events or behaviours they observe? Several cases involving safety and diversity intervention research from the management literature provide a surprising answer: a safety culture (or a culture of respect) may be sufficient and even superior to attempting to address sexual harassment and sexual assault specifically and narrowly.
(c) Safety, Diversity, and Anti-Bullying Interventions
Ely and Meyerson61 documented the surprising effects of a safety culture change on an off-shore oil platform. Prior to the change, disregarding safety protocols was a way in which to perform masculinity. Job promotions on the platform might be decided literally by a last-man-standing fistfight. Workers did not necessarily welcome or enjoy this kind of work environment; it was associated with injury and uncertainty. Nonetheless, as individuals, they could not change it. Even unpopular norms can be distressingly stable.62 A safety intervention was widely embraced. With the successful change towards a safety culture, several surprising additional outcomes were observed.
Beyond promoting safety, the safety culture also fundamentally and thoroughly altered the gender dynamics of the workers both on and off the platform. The researchers document how the workers — freed from the need to perform masculinity — would seek and provide support regarding off-rig family issues with a vulnerability and emotional exposure that would have been impossible prior to the intervention. In short, the safety culture intervention was also an unintentional but effective gender intervention. The safety culture intervention’s effectiveness in altering the gendered nature of the workplace usefully contrasts with the organizational interventions seeking to address gender in organizations directly. These interventions are a part of the efforts to promote diversity in organizations.
One challenge in diversity-promoting efforts is a tendency to focus on training as a key intervention, even when there is little evidence that training is effective in changing relevant behaviours.63 As described above, culture change requires engaging with everyday interactions, events, and behaviours. Training is unlikely to achieve this requirement.
Another challenge in organizational diversity initiatives is the backlash from organizational members.64 The reasons behind the backlash vary, but the result is active resistance, mistrust, fear, and anger about diversity initiatives. The backlash by student activist and advocacy groups within universities relating to the perceived lack of survivor-centric responses from their administrators is a case in point.65 From the discussion of safety culture requirements above, this backlash reflects that the necessary mutually supportive orientation is not present.
The diversity-in-organizations literature increasingly points to going beyond training towards embracing more wide-ranging and encompassing changes.66 The breadth of safety culture approaches may be necessary for the universal embrace of intervention rather than backlashes from sizeable groups within the organization. The anodyne nature of a broad concept such as safety may be important for its success. Universities are not particularly dangerous environments, so the specific approach of promoting safety is unlikely to resonate. Some other widely accepted and inoffensive goal that nonetheless requires mutual support and cooperation would be needed for a university setting to try to change campus culture generally, and rape culture particularly. A similarly broad intervention has been shown to be successful in workplaces to prevent incivility and bullying.67 Rather than targeting bullying directly, the intervention focuses on promoting respectful behaviour.68
A recent systematic review of studies documenting attempts to reduce incivility and bullying in the workplace identified two cases of effective interventions.69 The two cases involved the same form of intervention — a respect-oriented intervention called CREW: Civility, Respect, Engagement in the Workforce.70 CREW is a broad-ranging intervention that requires many months and widespread participation and buy-in to implement. It targets everyday interactions and seeks to provide organizational members with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to help promote and encourage respectful interactions. In this way, CREW reflects the kind of culture-change intervention around respect that is analogous to those that promote a safety culture.
Although not specifically an anti-bullying intervention, CREW is effective at preventing bullying. It is also not specifically an anti-sexual harassment or anti- sexual assault intervention, but we hypothesize that CREW is likely to have sexual harassment and sexual assault reducing benefits. We suggest that a comprehensive university-wide respect-building intervention like CREW is a type of prevention-oriented program that can reduce rape culture on campus. Cultural change needs to be broad and encompassing to be effective. Efforts to change campus rape culture need to be similarly broad, and in this breadth, not narrowly focused on sexual assault. Such narrow efforts inspire backlash and produce little evidence of successful cultural change. Rather than continuing to pursue a narrow culture-change effort, we propose learning from successful examples of organizational culture change and applying them to the university context and the issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
This synthesis of the management scholarship around cultural change to prevent a range of behaviours brings us back to the evolution of school policies discussed previously.71 The 1990s policies focused on specific behaviours, and implemented a zero-tolerance approach to those behaviours. This approach was not effective and had many negative unintended outcomes. The 2000s saw a broadening to embrace a safety and acceptance approach. Bailey further describes how, in 2008 and 2015, the curriculum reform efforts have embraced a “Shaping a Culture of Respect” perspective.72 It is now clear why a broadening of scope for safety policies to include everyday behaviours, an anodyne term like respect, and a concern with changing culture is more likely to be an effective strategy. These lessons can be readily adapted for working to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault on university campuses. Doing so requires a similar broadening, which entails a fundamental deviation from policies that deal with organizational responses following events. We describe this hybrid approach in the next section.
5. PROPOSAL: A HYBRID APPROACH SEPARATING PREVENTION
Current university policies on sexual harassment and sexual assault serve multiple purposes and needs. Their usefulness as a tool for organizational response is clear. In terms of sexual harassment and sexual assault, there is still a need to respond to immediate incidents. Current policies emphasize ex post reporting and the organizational responses to those reports. However, policies with the goal of preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault must shift towards changing underlying enabling causes.
Based on our synthesis of the management literature, we argue that formal policies are not the appropriate tool for changing university campus cultures to those that can prevent rather than enable sexual harassment and sexual assault. Achieving both goals — responsiveness and prevention — requires separate and distinct approaches. Many university policies do an excellent job of defining administrative and individual responsibilities, rights, options, and procedures for responding to sexual harassment or sexual assault incidents. This excellence should be preserved. Formal policies play a useful role in codifying and guiding recommended responses that are likely to help resolve the incident in a sensitive, respectful, and just manner.
The goal of preventing future incidents requires a very different approach. Rather than a formal policy targeting sexual harassment and sexual assault, achieving the needed cultural change that can prevent such incidents requires a broad and wide-ranging cultural intervention around a topic that is readily welcomed by all organizational members. Being able to live, work, and learn in an environment where everyone is treated with respect is one possible approach that has the potential to succeed. Although one goal of this intervention would be to reduce sexual harassment and sexual assault, because of its broad nature, the intervention would be relevant for related initiatives involving diversity, civility, safety, and others. Narrowing the intervention to a small set of behaviours would likely interfere with its ability to succeed.
University campuses are seeking not only to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault, but also to prevent future incidents. Are current policies likely to achieve these goals? And if not, what alternative approaches show greater promise? We have sought to answer these questions in this article. We analyzed the legal evolution of campus policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault in the U.S. and Canada with a targeted review of the management and organizations literature — scholarship concerning organizational diversity initiatives, organizational culture, cultural change, and safety culture — to challenge the perspective that reactive university policies are an appropriate tool for sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.
After presenting the fundamental contradictions regarding policies that respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault and approaches that can help to prevent the same, we offered suggestions for a hybrid strategy. A hybrid strategy requires a separation between policies designed to respond to incidents ex post and approaches seeking to prevent further incidents ex ante. As the management literature illustrates, successful prevention requires cultural change, and cultural change requires a broader range of integrated efforts than is practical to codify within sexual harassment or sexual assault policies. Culture-changing efforts around mutual respect, fair and productive learning environments, and the collective maximization of the potential and achievements of campus members are the type of broad, encompassing, and integrative approaches needed to change campus culture in a way that will result in the reduction and prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
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City. Her research on privacy has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada (in A.B. v. Bragg, 2012) and other Canadian and foreign courts. Karen’s latest book, Courts, Litigants and the Digital Age: Law, Ethics, and Practice, 2d ed. (Irwin Law, 2016), was supported by a CIRA grant.
Chloe Garcia is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill. Her research intersects sexual consent, rape culture, sexualities education, and digital literacies. She seeks to learn how youth build their understandings of consent and rape culture when analyzing and producing YouTube vlogs on the topic. Chloe regularly offers sex education workshops and hopes to eventually help develop digital literacy-based sex education curricula and workshops for schools and community organizations. Her work as senior research assistant on the IMPACTS: Collaborations to Address Sexual Violence on Campus project involves the creation of literature reviews, workshop facilitation, data management, and dissemination of findings through conference presentations and publications.
Shannon Hutcheson is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill and Research Assistant on IMPACTS. She also serves as Project Coordinator through her Research Assistantship with The Arts Against Postracialism. Shannon was formerly a university educator in Lyon, France, and has worked with first-generation university students and marginalized youth in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At McGill, she is involved in initiatives to research and improve the experiences of international students in higher education. As reflected in her professional and academic careers, Shannon cares deeply about international/comparative education, culturally competent service delivery, and addressing social issues in education.
Nazampal Jaswal is an LLB/BCL candidate at the McGill Faculty of Law. Upon graduating, Nazampal will pursue a career in criminal law. She co-founded and served as co-President of the Women of Colour Collective and is currently Co- Director of Innocence McGill, a legal clinic focusing on wrongful conviction cases. She has written independent research papers on sex offender registries as well as “criminalization” of migrants under Bill C-51. She also co-organized the “Beyond Ghomeshi” panel, which brought together a crown prosecutor, a defence counsel, a legal scholar, and a support worker to discuss ethical defence practices in criminal sexual assault trials.
Sarah Lewington is a Master’s student in Education and Society with a concentration in Gender and Women’s studies. A research assistant on IMPACTS and Schools, Safety, and the Urban Neighbourhood, Sarah feels fortunate to be immersed in projects that seek to make lasting change through addressing societal challenges. Her research interests are grounded in critical race feminism, including the integration of pleasure-based programming into sexual health education, and utilizing Institutional Ethnography to better understand how knowledge of women’s experiences provides meaningful insight into countering the pervasiveness of gender-based violence.
Brian Rubineau is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University. His research, which investigates how informal social dynamics contribute to inequalities in occupations and labour markets, has generated articles in the leading management and sociology journals Management Science, Organization Science, and American Sociological Review, among others. His PhD in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management concentrated on Economic Sociology and Organization Studies. Before joining McGill, he worked at the School for Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He is the recipient of multiple competitive research grants and has been a Residential Research Fellow at the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University and a Graduate Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.
Dr. Shaheen Shariff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, Faculty of Education at McGill University. Her research includes socio-legal issues relating to sexual violence and online sexual harassment, non-consensual distribution of intimate images, and cyberbullying in educational contexts. She directs several research projects through her organization “Define the Line” and is the Project Director on a multi-sector Partnership Grant funded for $2.5 million over 7 years by SSHRC. Through the project’s unique approach to partnered research and curriculum development, five McGill University faculties (Education, Dentistry, Law, Management, and Arts) and nine universities are working with 14 community partners including social media intermediaries such as Facebook, news media, art galleries and theatres, and advocacy NGO’s. Professor Shariff received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award in 2013 and Facebook’s Inaugural Digital Citizenship Award in 2012. She was an invited member of a United Nations panel on cyberhate chaired by the Secretary General and of the Quebec Premier’s task force on cyberintimidation in 2015. The author of five books on cyberbullying, she is a frequently invited keynote speaker and panelist at international and national
1 Eros S. DeSouza and Joseph Solberg, “Incidence and Dimensions of Sexual Harassment across Cultures” (2003) Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Handbook of Cultural, Social Science, Management, and Legal Perspectives 3; Michele Paludi, Rudy Nydegger, Eros DeSouza, Liesl Nydegger, and Kelsey Allen Dicker, “International Perspectives on Sexual Harassment of College Students” (2006) 1087:1 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 103; and Janet Sigal, “International Sexual Harassment” 1087:1 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 356.
2 Fusilier and Penrod show that 425 of 439, or 97% of examined not-for-profit universities in the US have a formal sexual harassment policy that is published online and accessible to the general public. Marcelline Fusilier and Charlie Penrod, “University Employee Sexual Harassment Policies” (2015) 27:1 Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 47.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Program Operations: Guidelines for STD Prevention: Outbreak Response Plan, online: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention «https://www.cdc.gov/std/program/outbreak.pdf».
5 Allison L. Friedman, Rachel E. Kachur, Seth M. Noar, and Mary McFarlane, “Health Communication and Social Marketing Campaigns for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention and Control: What Is the Evidence of Their Effectiveness?” (2016) 43: 2 (Suppl. 1) Sex. Transm. Dis. S83.
6 Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 118 S.Ct. 2275, 141 L.Ed.2d 662 (1998).
7 Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 118 S.Ct. 2257, 141 L.Ed.2d 633 (1998).
8 Clark v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 400 F.3d 341 (C.A.9 (Ky.), 2005) at 350–51.
11 IMPACTS: Collaborations to Address Sexual Violence on Campus. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant Number: 895-2016-1026. Project Director, Shaheen Shariff, PhD., McGill University (referenced here as the “IMPACTS Project”). Some information available at «www.mcgill.ca/definetheline» which is currently under reconstruction to update for the new project.
12 See Hutcheson and Lewington in this issue discussing similarities between Title IX in the U.S. and the Canadian Human Rights Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11.
13 Constitution Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Vict., c. 3 at s. 92.
14 Ross v. New Brunswick School District No. 15, 1996 CarswellNB 125, EYB 1996-80080,  1 S.C.R. 825, 133 D.L.R. (4th) 1, 37 Admin. L.R. (2d) 131, 171 N.B.R. (2d) 321, 437 A.P.R. 321, 25 C.H.R.R. D/175, 96 C.L.L.C. 230-020, 35 C.R.R. (2d) 1, 195 N.R. 81,  S.C.J. No. 40 (S.C.C.) [Ross]; Mahmoodi v. Dutton, 1999 CarswellBC 3088, 1999 BCHRT 56, 36 C.H.R.R. D/8,  B.C.H.R.T.D. No. 52 (B.C. Human Rights Trib.) [Mahmoodi].
15 Ross ibid., at paras. 306-307.
16 Mpega v. Universite ́ de Moncton, 2001 CarswellNB 498, 2001 CarswellNB 575, 2001 NBCA 78, 43 Admin. L.R. (3d) 114, 240 N.B.R. (2d) 349, 622 A.P.R. 349,  N.B.J. No. 246 (N.B.C.A.) [Mpega], at paras. 30-36. Mpega is discussed further below.
17 Zhang v. University of Western Ontario, 2010 CarswellOnt 10065, 2010 ONSC 6489, 328
D.L.R. (4th) 289 (Ont. Div. Ct.) [Zhang].
18 North Vancouver School District No. 44 v. Jubran, 2005 CarswellBC 788, 2005 BCCA 201, 253 D.L.R. (4th) 294, 39 B.C.L.R. (4th) 153,  9 W.W.R. 242, 211 B.C.A.C. 161, 52 C.H.R.R. D/1, 130 C.R.R. (2d) 52, 349 W.A.C. 161,  B.C.J. No. 733 (B.C.C.A.) [Jubran].
19 Above note 16, at paras 32–34.
20 Mahmoodi, above note 14; Jubran, above note 18.
21 Mahmoodi, above note 14, at para. 249 [emphasis added].
22 Ontario, Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), S.O. 2016, c.2, Schedule 3, adding s. 17.
23 Ibid., adding section 17 to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act.
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28 Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin, and Erin Kelly, “Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies” (2006) 71:4 Amer. Soc. Rev. 589.
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30 See above note 28.
31 Katerina Bezrukova, Karen A. Jehn, and Chester S. Spell, “Reviewing Diversity Training: Where We Have Been and Where We Should Go” (2012) 11:2 Academy of Management Learning & Education 207.
32 Robin J. Ely and Debra E. Meyerson, “Theories of Gender in Organizations: A New Approach to Organizational Analysis and Change” (2000) 22 Research in Organizational Behavior 103.
34 As in above note 2.
35 Jane Bailey, “From ‘Zero Tolerance’ to ‘Safe and Accepting’: Surveillance and Equality in the Evolution of Ontario Education Law and Policy” (2017) 26:2 E.L.J. 147.
37 Government of Ontario, Shaping a Culture of Respect in Our Schools: Promoting Safe and Healthy Relationships, Safe Schools Action Team Report on Gender-based Violence, Homophobia, Sexual Harassment, and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in Schools (Toronto: Queen’s Printer, 2008).
38 John W. Meyer, and Brian Rowan. “Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony” (1977) 83:2 American J. of Sociology 340.
39 T.L. MacLean and M. Behnam, “The Dangers of Decoupling: The Relationship between Compliance Programs, Legitimacy Perceptions, and Institutionalized Mis- conduct” (2010) 53:6 Academy of Management Journal 1499.
40 W.G. Tierney, “Organizational Culture in Higher Education: Defining the Essentials” (1988) 59:1 The Journal of Higher Education 2.
41 Matt Alvesson, The Concept of Organizational Culture (London: Sage Publishing, 2002) at 3.
42 Willem Verbeke, Marco Volgering, and Marco Hessels, “Exploring the Conceptual Expansion within the Field of Organizational Behaviour: Organizational Climate and Organizational Culture” 35:3 (1998) Journal of Management Studies 303; See also D. Zohar and D. A. Hofmann, “Organizational Culture and Climate” in S. Kozlowski, ed., Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychologyv (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) 643.
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44 J. Shook “How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMI” (2010) 51:2 MIT Sloan Management Review 63.
45 See Howard-Grenville et al., above note 43.
46 Ibid. at 535.
47 Above note 41, at 188–91.
48 Ibid., at 190.
49 William G. Tierney, The Impact of Culture on Organizational Decision-Making: Theory and Practice in Higher Education (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2008) at 170.
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51 S. Barao, S.A. Silva, and M.L. Lima, “The Role of Safety Culture in Explaining Work Accidents” (2006) Safety and Reliability for Managing Risk 751; See also F.W. Guldenmund, “The Nature of Safety Culture: A Review of Theory and Research” (2000) 34:1-3 Safety Science 215.
52 Guldenmund, ibid.
53 A. Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2010); see also S.J. Singer and T.J. Vogus, “Reducing Hospital errors: Interventions That Build Safety Culture” (2013) 34 Annual Review of Public Health 34.
54 R.J. Ely and D.E. Meyerson, “An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: The Unlikely Case of Offshore Oil Platforms” (2010) 30 Research in Organizational Behavior 3.
55 T.R. Krause, Leading with Safety (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005) [emphasis in original].
56 T.J. Vogus, N.B. Rothman, K.M. Sutcliffe, and K.E. Weick, “The Affective Founda- tions of High-Reliability Organizing” (2014) 35:4 Journal of Organizational Behavior 592.
57 Erving Goffman, “On the Characteristics of Total Institutions” (1961) Symposium on Preventive and Social Psychiatry 43.
58 Paul E. Bierly and J-C. Spender, “Culture and High Reliability Organizations: The Case
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59 See above note 54.
60 Ibid. See also above note 55.
61 See above note 54.
62 D. Centola, R. Willer, and M. Macy, “The Emperor’s Dilemma: A Computational Model of Self-Enforcing Norms” (2005) 110:4American Journal of Sociology1009; W.K. Jones, “A Theory of Social Norms” (1994) 3 U. Ill. L. Rev. 545; R. Willer, K. Kuwabara, and M.W. Macy, “The False Enforcement of Unpopular Norms” 115:2 American Journal of Sociology 451.
63 C.I. Chavez and J.Y. Weisinger, “Beyond Diversity Training: A Social Infusion for Cultural Inclusion” (2008) 47:2Human Resource Management331; A. Kalev, F. Dobbin, and E. Kelly, “Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies” (2006) 71:4 589.
64 D.L. Kidder, M.J. Lankau, D. Chrobot-Mason, K.A. Mollica, and R.A. Friedman, “Backlash toward Diversity Initiatives: Examining the Impact of Diversity Program Justification, Personal and Group Outcomes” (2004) 15:1 International Journal of Conflict Management 77.
65 Above note 5.
66 Chavez and Weisinger, above note 63; F.G. Stevens, V.C. Plaut, and J. Sanchez-Burks, “Unlocking the Benefits of Diversity: All-Inclusive Multiculturalism and Positive Organizational Change” (2008) 44:1 The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 116.
67 M. Hodgins, S. MacCurtain, and P. Mannix-McNamara, “Workplace Bullying and Incivility: A Systematic Review of Interventions” (2014) 7:1 International Journal of Workplace Health Management 54.
68 K. Osatuke, S.C. Moore, C. Ward, S.R. Dyrenforth, and L. Belton, “Civility, Respect, Engagement in the Workforce (CREW) Nationwide Organization Development Intervention at Veterans Health Administration” (2009) 45:3 The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 384. 69 Above note 67. 70 Above note 68.
69 Above note 67.
70 Above note 68.
71 Above note 35.
72 Ibid., at 165-ff.