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McDonald’s anti-harassment training could lead to backlash

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli

On Wednesday, McDonald’s announced it would require workers worldwide to take anti-harassment training starting next year. The mandate is seen as a response to dozens of charges filed by employees in recent years alleging sexual harassment and retaliation when workers complained. 

Vanessa Bohns

Professor of Organizational Behavior

Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, studies social influence and the psychology of compliance and consent. She says that sexual harassment training must be combined with other initiatives to be effective.   


Bohns says:

“While an intervention that impacts two million workers certainly sounds impressive, the question is whether this is primarily a cosmetic fix, or whether efforts are truly being made to change the corporate culture. 

“Sexual harassment training alone is often ineffective, and can in some cases even lead to backlash. The hope is that McDonald’s is also combatting sexual harassment in other ways: assessing their reporting procedures; developing other types of training programs aside from traditional sexual harassment training, such as bystander intervention training and skills training for managers; ensuring that women, particularly women of color, are being promoted into managerial positions; and setting quantifiable goals that their progress can ultimately be compared to in order to hold themselves accountable. ”

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