In California, employers with 5 or more employees are required by law to provide at least one a hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training for employees every two years.
We recently went through another round of this training at the office. A recurring theme from our team during and after the session was, “if you just be a good person you’re going to avoid many of these problems.” I was also impressed by feedback from our team that there are a lot of other types of unwanted behaviors you might encounter in the workplace well before you cross the “legal threshold,” and that we should try and articulate these to make clear to newcomers what is or is not tolerated at our company.
We thought it would be best to capture the spirit of this through a slogan or simple expression. Some companies talk about a “no jerks policy,” but we didn’t feel this was specific enough. We also weren’t sure about expressing it as a negative. We thought a more positive slogan like a “Golden Rule Policy” would work better but this is tricky given the strong history of this expression in religion. (And the fact that some people treat others genuinely the way they expect to be treated but are still acting like jerks)!
While searching for a better way to capture the type of behavior we wanted to encourage at the company we settled on “be excellent to each other,” as popularized by the cultural cornerstone movie and pinnacle of American cinema, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It may sound light-hearted, but beneath the surface there is a deep wisdom about life to be learned from these time traveling heroes.
After some iteration, we came up with a simple scenario-based training module to help capture this for the team. Others may find this useful, so I’m making available to the public here: Link