Governor Edwards named Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Dr. Courtland Chaney to the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
In a statement on December 15 the Governor’s Office announced the new Task Force and stated that seven members are included who will “review current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as research and identify the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.”
Dr. Courtland Chaney is a licensed industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologist in private practice in his company, Human Resource Management Associates, Inc., located in Baton Rouge. Chaney currently serves as a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association. He was a faculty member in the Department of Management at Louisiana State University until his retirement in 2010.
“Sexual harassment and discrimination,” said Governor Edwards in the December announcement, “have no place in the workplace and this task force will provide critical feedback on the current policies and procedures in our state agencies that are working and what improvements are needed in order to provide safe work environments for our employees.”
Also appointed to the task force were Terrence Ginn, deputy commissioner for finance & administration at the Louisiana Board of Regents; Sandra Schober, deputy director of administrative services for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office; Makayla Weber-Harris, staffing assistant division administrator of the Louisiana State Civil Service.
Also appointed were Janice Lansing, chief financial officer of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Tina Vanichchagorn, deputy executive counsel, Office of the Governor; Suzette Meiske, human resources director for the Louisiana Community Technical College System.
“Every member of this task force brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, and I have confidence in their ability to meet the goals and objectives set before them,” said Gov. Edwards.
In an Executive Order he outlined the duties of the group:
• Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.
• Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.
• Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.
• Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
• Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.
The Task Force was created after Governor Edward’s deputy chief of staff, Johnny Anderson, voluntarily resigned amid an investigation of a harassment claim against him. Anderson says he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Some critics noted that Anderson should not have been hired because he had a similar problem while at Southern University, according to reports in the TimesPicayune.
Dr. Chaney commonly provides anti-harassment training for businesses that he assists and believes all decision-makers should ask themselves certain questions, involving, “Am I acting in an ethical manner? Am I treating people fairly, the way I would want to be treated, the way I would want my loved ones to be treated?” And, “Am I in compliance with all federal, state and local laws?”
He often engages his attendees to talk as a group and or individually, to dig into these types of questions even more thoroughly where needed.
“In my judgment, most antiharassment training––including sexual harassment––focuses on following the EEOC guidelines …” he said.
But after that analysis, which can be comprehensive, Dr. Chaney believes that the issues can extend to the organizational culture.
“I believe our next effort should be focused on describing the type of organizational culture we aspire to have and articulating the behaviors we expect of organizational members,” he explained. “The expected behaviors should then be reinforced through human resource management practices, including performance management, feedback, and progressive discipline.”