Each year during my career in the fire service and time in the military, I attended mandatory training addressing workplace discrimination, harassment, and other topics outlined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Year after year, employees of fire departments and other organizations attend training intended to stem the tide of EEO complaints. Yet grievances still occur and when they involve fire departments and other public safety entities, the problems become the headlines of the day.
Each Monday to Friday, I receive an email from Firehouse.com with the latest news and updates related to the fire service. Here is a sampling of headlines over the last eight weeks:
- “OH Dept., Ex-Officer to Pay Victim of Sexual Harassment”1
- “Cincinnati Fire Chief Out Over Department’s Culture”2
- “KY Firefighter Charged with Possession of Child Pornography”3
- “CA Chief Apologizes for Fire Truck Strip Club Visits”4
I am sure that each of the individuals involved in these incidents attended an annual HR directed training on harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So, what is going on? Why does this type of behavior still occur? After all, government agencies require EEO training for organizations. Doesn’t a government mandate solve all the problems of the world? Absolutely not!
Recently, I heard a presentation by the leadership author, coach, and speaker John Maxwell, and he said, “We work with perfectly imperfect human beings.”
What is the underlying issue related to the headlines above? Perfectly imperfect human beings who lack character. It does not matter one iota how many mandatory classes someone attends, if there is a lack of character, then there are going to be problems. When character issues and problems erupt, the mandatory EEO classes only serve as an anvil for the legal hammer of progressive discipline to come down on the offender.
Is there an answer to this issue?
Yes, there is an answer to the issue. In addition to the mandatory EEO classes, fire departments and other organizations must provide leadership training to their employees. Yet this type of training is either neglected or it is the first thing cut out of the budget. Then, when a complaint arises, people in the chain-of-command, the HR department, and the Legal department scratch their heads and say, “We gave them the mandatory training. I don’t understand why this is happening!” The problems continue to happen because of character issues and no government agency can arbitrarily mandate that character issues disappear.
Help is available.
I have the leadership experience, training, education, and resources to provide meaningful and relevant teaching to equip you and your personnel to enhance their skills and abilities as leaders with strong character. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit my website at https://www.fireofficerleadershipacademy.com.