R&C: In your experience, how endemic is workplace harassment and discrimination? Does more need to be done to raise awareness of this behaviour, and to acknowledge and address the issue proactively within companies?

Loeb: Our recent experience is that the behavioural and cognitive biases that lead to hostile work environments and discrimination claims are deeply and systemically rooted in corporate culture. In many cases, offenders are not aware, nor do they believe that their behaviour violates legal, social and cultural expectations and imperatives. What’s more, the historical confirmation biases that create hostile work environments, until recently, have been reinforced by incentive packages, leadership selection, challenges in gender diversification, and the tacit signals that male-dominated executive teams project – albeit unintentionally is many instances. It is troubling to note that the majority of workplace harassment claims have historically gone unreported as the victims that do speak up have often experienced retaliatory consequences. Companies are now on explicit notice that they critically examine corporate culture both from an outside in and inside out perspective. Engaging outside experts to thoroughly examine organisational culture, governance structure, team composition, management styles and incentives is now a baseline expectation.

Apr-Jun 2018 Issue