Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Legal Suppliers

Major clients sign on for Ryley Learning’s sexual harassment training

Toronto employment and human rights lawyer Bay Ryley is having early success with a program that uses personable animation to deliver an impactful message to help North American employers scrambling to train staff about sexual harassment.

Ryley, founder and president of Ryley Learning, recently landed two major clients with hundreds of employees, Dentsu Aegis, a multinational media network and FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting software company.

“Both clients see the potential of the online program to deliver meaningful, effective and consistent training to large groups of diverse employees in different locations," Ryley tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The real power of Ryley Learning’s e-course on sexual harassment prevention is in the stories it tells, says John Stockwell, chief talent officer at Dentsu.

“Through the four episodes our employees are introduced to different characters and different points of view that help get at the nuances of these complicated workplace issues," he says. "The animated narratives are engaging and thought-provoking, exactly the kind of training we want for our employees.”

Susan Klunder, associate director of human resources at Freshbooks, says one of the great features of the e-course is that it is designed for digital and mobile.

"We don’t have to worry about the logistics and costs of assembling our FreshBooks employees for in-person training," she says. "Instead, we can ensure that they are going through the training at a time and place that works for them, and that works for our business.”

The cost-effective training, which employees complete on a computer, smartphone or tablet, consists of four 10-minute stories, each showing different sexual-harassment scenarios with a humorous yet serious educational tone. Interactive quizzes reinforce the learning, which qualifies for many North American legislative sexual harassment training requirements. With volume discounts, employers pay between $30 and $100 per staffer trained, says Ryley, who has also signed up clients in both Canada and the U.S.

The course is designed to reach those employees known in the field as “reluctant learners,” Ryley says.

"Its engaging approach makes learning about a serious and, in many cases, legislatively required topic, less burdensome," she says. "Organizations can track individual and overall team compliance, and can customize the learning to add internal policies. Some, like Dentsu, also add messages from senior executives to reinforce the importance of the training."

Delivery via smartphone, tablet or computer enables companies needing to provide training to hundreds or thousands of employees to ensure that all receive the same instruction, Ryley says.

“You don’t have to gather people to do it,” she says.

She is also talking with restaurant chains since the hospitality industry has particularly high-risk factors for sexual harassment: frequent employee turnover, young staff, alcohol consumption and late hours, she says. The program is offered in both French and English with other languages in development.

Two years ago, Ryley was asked to recommend a good sexual-harassment training video, but couldn’t find any that weren’t boring PowerPoint presentations or that accurately represented changing laws, she says. And with the advent of the #MeToo movement, “sexual harassment training quickly changed from being a fringe business consideration to a core imperative.”

Welcoming the idea to add some creativity to her professional life, Ryley engaged a digital production company with a great script writer, hired professional voice actors and created the program, titled Eliminating Sexual Harassment: It’s Everyone’s Business.

Using animated video clips, the program includes four stories at a hypothetical company called Future Generation, spanning office, retail and manufacturing workplaces. The stories are presented from different perspectives and cover sexual harassment scenarios that people might not be familiar with, Ryley says.

“Instead of teaching employees to simply go to human resources to report an incident, it addresses some of the complexities that prevent people from coming forward. And it dissects the issue of why someone might not come forward,” she explains.

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