‘Let Them Dance…But Not Too Close’: Welcome to the Post-Weinstein Holiday Party

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In the News

‘Let Them Dance…But Not Too Close’: Welcome to the Post-Weinstein Holiday Party

Engage CEO, Jay Starkman quoted in the Wall Street Journal

Companies aim to avert problem behavior at office parties with a list of ‘don’ts.’

The caution reflects the combustible mix that holiday work parties often bring together: alcohol plus colleagues dismissive or unsure of what work rules still apply at a celebration outside the office. The heightened sensitivity around sexual misconduct means “the terms of engagement are changing,” said Jay Starkman, chief executive of human-resources services company Engage PEO, who predicts less hugging at his employer’s headquarters holiday bash next week.

After an Engage PEO holiday celebration a few years ago, a woman complained to its HR department because Mr. Starkman hugged her and other male and female associates—but didn’t hug every woman there. He says the incident made him wonder “whether I should ever hug anybody at a holiday party again.’’

Since October, when the first of dozens of women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of serial sexual harassment and assault, Mr. Starkman said about a dozen company clients have asked him whether they should do anything differently in preparing their holiday parties. His main tip: Remind employees that “our company has no tolerance for any inappropriate conduct.”

In the News

Matt Lauer Proved Anyone Can Cross the Line, But Are You Ready to React?

From sexual harassment to racist comments, leaders can never excuse inappropriate behavior -- even when it involves a beloved employee.

Engage CEO, Jay Starmkan, speaks to Inc. Magazine.

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In the News

Holiday Party Etiquette: Stay on the Nice List

Engage CEO, Jay Starkman, talks to Business News Daily about company holiday party Dos and Dont's.

"Make sure that employees understand that the company's sexual harassment and retaliation policies are in effect 24/7 – this includes company social events," Starkman told Business News Daily. He also suggests asking your leadership team to keep their ears and eyes open for potential issues at the holiday party."

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