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Episode 123: Why even have a debt ceiling?

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Marketplace Morning Report

"SNL’s" Claire from HR nails workplace harassment, but she won’t be part of your training

Jana Kasperkevic Nov 13, 2017
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Cecily Strong as Claire from HR. 
YouTube/Saturday Night Live

With sexual harassment allegations dominating the headlines over the last few weeks, companies across the nation are revisiting their workplace training. In addition to reassuring employees that complaints of this nature will be taken seriously, some human resource offices have sent reminders about their sexual harassment policies and even requested that employees retake their training.

Human resource departments got the late night comedy treatment this weekend when “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update featured a new character — Claire from HR. Played by Cecily Strong, the frazzled HR lady quizzed Weekend Update host Colin Jost on the proper way to handle workplace relationships, the meaning of consent and indecent exposure.

“When talking to a co-worker in the office where should you keep your penis?” she asks at one point. Later adding that: “Yes, your penis never needs to be out of your pants at work.”

If only all HR videos could be that engaging, but they are hard to do right. And while you might not see Claire from HR at your next sexual harassment training, she could return to “SNL” in the future.

I’m sure I’ll be back next week, and the week after that forever and ever, because all of this isn’t just a scandal. It didn’t just start last week. It’s just actual reality for half of the population,” Strong pointed out at the end of the segment.

About 48 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. One of the reasons that companies are beginning to take notice is because the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace can be expensive when it comes to a company’s bottom line.

“It’s not just expensive when you’re talking about really high-profile legal situations and settlements,” Katherine Bell, Barron’s editor-in-chief, told Marketplace Weekend. “It’s really expensive when you think about it on an individual level at companies all over the place. Some research showed that for every case of sexual harassment it costs $22,500 in productivity alone.”

Then there is the issue of turnover. Another study found that 80 percent of women who experienced severe sexual harassment quit their jobs because of the harassment itself or because of the way the situation was handled.

It’s no wonder then that about a third of large companies budget as much as $100,000 or more to pay for workplace harassment training, keeping the real-life Claires from HR busy, busy, busy.

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