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Today we're going to continue with another episode of our segment "Misconduct myths," things that people frequently think or believe or hope that just simply aren't true. They're just myths. Today's episode is called "Nothing to See Here." So often organizations believe that misconduct isn't happening. There's nothing happening in the organization; that everything is good, smooth sailing, because they haven't received any reports. They haven't heard about it, so therefore it's not happening. They have this mistaken belief that if it were happening people would report it naturally. Logically, if someone was a victim of misconduct, if misconduct was happening in the workplace, they would go to HR. They would follow the proper steps. They would report it. And we as leaders would therefore know that it was happening. We are aware of it.
This is akin to the common myth that parents know everything that's happening with their kids. So in that respect, I don't know how many parents I've talked to in investigations where they were-I was asked to speak to them as witnesses. And remember, I was an investigator for title ix, so investigating sexual misconduct at college campuses, and I would often have my respondent or complainant ask me to talk to their parents as a witness, and they have the right to present their own list of witnesses. And I would talk to the parent and the parent would say, my son or my daughter never-has never lied to me in their life. They're the most honest person I know; and I know everything that's happening in their life. Now just saying that is a red flag to show that you have no idea what's happening in your kid's life. If you believe that you know everything your teenager has done, then you are kidding yourself. You are living in a fantasy world. Your teenagers are doing things and you don't know about it. And guess what?
They're not telling you everything.
Even if they're great kids, even if they're making good decisions 99% of the time, they are not telling you everything.
The same is true in an organization. As the leader, your employees are not telling you everything. The other issue, especially if you are a senior leader, if you're at the very top maybe misconduct has been reported but it's being handled by that first level supervisor. They are making it go away. They believe that that's their job, is to make problems go away so that you as the president or the CEO or the senior level manager don't ever have to worry about it. So you think everything is fine because it's all been "handled." When I say "handled," (if you're listening) I'm putting quotes in here because it really hasn't been handled. If it has, if leadership doesn't know about it, if it's just been swept under the rug, most likely it hasn't actually been properly handled. So that's another issue.
Okay, back to my title ix days with Brigham Young University. You may recall, this is no secret, in 2016 there were a lot of news articles about how BYU was handling title ix cases, not only in Utah. BYU is a university, it is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It's a university in Provo, Utah. But this became national news. I saw-I was living in California at the time. I saw it in local news there. Title ix issues, news stories about schools mishandling title ix sexual misconduct were hitting the news nationwide, universities across the country. This was not unique to BYU. This was happening in a lot of places.
As a response to this situation, these complaints, these news stories, there were some lawsuits. BYU decided to reorganize their title ix office and I was hired as the investigator as part of that reorganization, as someone who has years and years of experience conducting specifically sexual misconduct investigations. So it was kind of a chance for BYU's titke ix office to start over. All of the personnel, the entire office was new. The title ix coordinator, the investigators, the deputies, everyone was brand new and BYU was committed to rewriting their policy.
So we were basically given a do-over, which is a great thing, not something that you normally get. Through the process of writing this new policy, one of the first things that leadership did was they they executed an amnesty clause in the policy. Now this was going to be incorporated in the new policy, but they actually put it out earlier and made it effective immediately.
BYU has what they call an Honor Code. Every school has a conduct code; this is just BYU's version of their conduct code, and it has rules in it that comply with, are in line with some of the teachings of the church, the sponsors. It's a private university. Every private university has rules that might be different than the state universities. Nothing crazy, nothing new. Students at BYU are not allowed to drink. That is against their conduct code. And they're not allowed to have sex outside of marriage. It's part of their religious teachings and part of the conduct code. This is well known. This is not a secret.
One of the complaints, or some of the basis for the complaints against the Title IX Office was that students were being held accountable by the Honor Code Office, by the conduct office, for breaking the rules when they
came for help after being sexually assaulted. So in other words, if a BYU student were at a party drinking, they're violating the Honor Code. But then if they were sexually assaulted at that party they were the victim of sexual misconduct. That's a title ix issue.
So now you have the Title IX Office and the Honor Code Office, and the allegations were that BYU was punishing them for the drinking, but not properly helping them as the victim of sexual assault. So that's-that was-those were the claims, those were the allegations. And so this amnesty clause came out and said we will not punish you
for any Honor Code violations that happen at or near the time of the sexual misconduct, the sexual assault. So in that example, you're not going to get in trouble for drinking because you were sexually assaulted. We want to focus on helping you through that. That's a much worse thing. That's something that requires more focus than the fact that you had a beer.
So this came out to great approval. Everyone loved it. It was good thing; and that came into effect immediately. So
our new team, when we started in the office, one of the first things we did is we created training. We created educational materials and we got ours-we put ourselves out there. We started talking to student groups. We started talking to student mentors. We started talking to faculty. We tried making appointments with every single faculty department on campus, which is a huge endeavor but so important.
And it's amazing how many times we went to these meetings with faculty and the meeting started out with
the faculty very con-um conflict, they were ready for battle. The faculty came in they were ready to argue and ready for battle. And by the end of it they trusted us; they believed in us because we showed that we knew what we were doing. We showed we have the experience. We showed that we cared and that we wanted to help students. We wanted to do it properly. We showed them that we were different, without, you know, without saying the previous team was bad, without even getting into that. We showed who we were and they began to trust who we were.
So this is-wasn't about bad-mouthing anyone in the past; this was just building trust in the present and in the future. So people started to understand that we did things differently. We follow the policy (was being rewritten). And not
only that, we did things differently. We actually explained how we did it and what we did. We talked about our process. We explained the process. We invited feedback. We invited people to come in.
BYU also did climate survey, and when the results came back we showed that by the time the results of the climate survey came back, we'd already done all that stuff. All the stuff that people said that the Title IX Office needed to do, we were able to say, hey look, we already made these changes so we're way ahead of the game. So we did
a lot of work just to rebuild trust.
And guess what happened the next academic school year? Reports went up by 400%! That's right, you heard me: 400%. So we're not talking here the reports were four and went up to 16. We're talking a significant number of reports going up by 400 percent, a massive, massive increase in reporting. Now guess what. There wasn't a massive increase in sexual misconduct. It wasn't-there wasn't something in the water that next year that suddenly forced BYU students to engage in sexual misconduct. No, absolutely not. The rate of assault most likely was exactly the same. The difference was that students and faculty trusted us enough to make the report. They knew we would do the right thing, we would follow the policy, and they would be treated fairly and with empathy.
So the myth that there was this certain number of reports and therefore, you know, you could say, well, out of over 30,000 students there's only this many reports a year. It's really a small issue. It's not a big deal at BYU. Well, suddenly when people trusted us we saw that it actually was happening a lot more than originally thought based on the previous numbers. Again, not-you know, when you take into account percentage-wise with the numbers and students and everything we're not talking like it's happening every day to everyone, but it was a significant problem.
There was misconduct happening that the school didn't know about and therefore couldn't address. They couldn't help students when they didn't know the student had been impacted or affected.
So I'm going to stick with title ix a little bit. I went through a list of every university, college in the country to look at their title ix website to get the name of their title ix coordinator. As part of that, I noticed a lot of things about their websites. And I have, if you look at my YouTube channel, there's an entire series on what I learned and kind of some tips and tricks and do's and don'ts if you are in title ix and you are looking to improve your website.
But there was one specific university, and I'm not going to name them by name, their website, their title 9 website was just bad. It was really bad. It had very little information. I couldn't find the name of the title ix coordinator. If you were a student, you would have no idea where to go for help if it happened to you.
So one thing schools have to do is they have to post their crime statistics. It's the Clery Act. They have to every year
publish a report showing the certain crimes happening on campus, the numbers, so that the public can see what's happening here at these universities. So this school on their tite ix site chose to publish a graph with those numbers. And guess what? Zero. Their numbers were zero. There was, other than I think a vehicle break in, there was like one. And they posted these numbers for the past three or four years so it looked like, if you looked at this
graph, if you went to the title ix website as a parent, you would say, I am sending my kid here because this is the safest place on planet earth. Nothing happens here. The worst thing that's happened in three years is someone's car was broken into.
Is there anyone out there listening that believes that is true? Is there anyone out there that believes that nothing bad has ever happened at that campus? Is there some sort of magic protector protective bubble over that campus? Absolutely not!
That data was 100% wrong; and I can say that without ever having dived into their numbers or talked to anyone there. I know for a fact, having dealt with human beings and investigations for 20 years, that that data was wrong. How? Because you've got students, you have human beings, you have young adults. People make mistakes. So why is the data so wrong? Well one explanation or excuse could be well we don't have a resident, we don't
have residences on campus so things, if things happen they're not on campus. They're off campus between students and therefore we don't have to publish them in our numbers. Okay, that could reduce your numbers. There are
college campuses that are like that. I'm not sure if this one is. It doesn't matter. The numbers are still wrong.
The problem was, and this was very clear from looking at their website, if something did happen to you, you would
have no idea where to report it. When you went to their website for help, if you were sexually assaulted and you went to your-you said, oh wait a minute I've heard about this title ix thing. Schools are supposed to help victims of
sexual misconduct. And you went and you searched for their website and you looked at their website, guess what? Nothing. No help, no phone numbers, no names, no information on what to do as a victim, just this graph showing that nothing happens here. This is a safe place.
Well, you know it's not a safe place because you were just sexually assaulted. So now you're looking at this website that you know is a lie because it's happened to you. Not only do you not know who to call because it's not clear, you don't want to talk to them because the website portrayed it, communicated that we don't actually want to help students. To us it's more important to have zeros in this graph so that we can tell everyone how safe we
are. It's more important for that rather than to actually help students. When it happens we are more concerned about the numbers than we are about the students.
So there are people, I'm sure the leadership of that school thinks that nothing is happening and they have the safest place, but guess what? It's happening. It's just not being reported because the students don't trust you.
And this applies to companies as well. If your company has a reputation of doing nothing or not helping or sweeping things under the rug, guess what? Word is going to get around. People are going to hear that and then when something bad happens to them, or when they see something they're not going to report it. Your reporting numbers will actually go down as incidents go up because your employees do not trust you. They see that nothing happens unless it's a serious crime and the police are involved. Our company doesn't do anything. Our managers are unwilling to listen. Our HR director doesn't do anything.
There's a story that I'm going to talk about later in "Misconduct in the News," but I want to mention it here now, where the employee went to HR and HR basically said, okay, you need to bring me all of the evidence. You need-basically saying you need to do the investigation for me, do my job and bring me the investigative report, and then I'll decide if I'm going to do something or not. There were dozens of interviews that needed to be done. So what do you think that employee did? Do you think they went out and did an investigation? No. They quit. And then that HR manager could say, situation handled, nothing to see here, and continue the myth to leadership that nothing was going on because that's what the numbers say.
You need to recognize that misconduct is happening. People in your organization are making bad decisions every day. Some of them are so bad they could really financially impact your company, your organization. They create a lot of liability. Other times, it's something small. Other times it's just an employee that's impacted negatively. It doesn't matter. It's happening. No matter how much due diligence you did in hiring, and doing background checks and getting references. It doesn't matter how great your company culture is, how fun it is to work there, how engaged you are as a manager, misconduct is happening.
And if you're not hearing about it, that means you are the problem. You need to change your system. You need to communicate to your people that you're willing, you're there, you're willing to listen. You're willing to take action. You're willing to investigate and do something about it. When they report the misconduct they will be taken seriously. And that you care about your employees. You care about misconduct in your organization and you will do everything you can to make it stop.
That's our misconduct myth for today. Kind of a downer I know, telling you that your statistics aren't as good as you think they are. But it's important. It's something you need to recognize and realize because you can't fix it, you can't take action you can't address it unless you know about it.
Remember, please subscribe. Leave me a review. Share this podcast far and wide. Share it with your managers. Share with your organization. Let them know. Open their eyes. Open their eyes. So important. Thank you for watching or listening, however you are taking in this episode, and I will see you next time on the next episode. Thank you so much.