Douglas Rosenthal published an article on 8/1/2016 that tackles the difficult topic of sexual harassment inside the orchestra field. Although the topic is always bound to make some uncomfortable, it is difficult to deny that our field has a track record of making things worse than it needs. This is due to a lack of adopting practices designed to make sure all employees understand the institution’s key HR policies and procedures related to ethical conduct principles, discrimination and sexual harassment prevention, workplace privacy, compliance, conflicts of interest prevention, formal complaint processes, workplace violence prevention, health and safety, use of company equipment, etc.
Across the board, there is a missing support structure to effectively address infractions and reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.
Employees aren’t provided with adequate onboarding HR indoctrination and since most professional orchestras don’t have the resources to employ a trained HR professional, the task of handling something like sexual harassment complaints among musician employees tends to fall on the shoulders of personnel managers. In turn, those individuals rarely receive adequate training on how to handle and process complaints.
Although it may appear to be a basket case, the good news is that it is relatively straightforward problem to correct. But until the field begins to address the issue with the attention and resources it deserves, don’t expect much to change.