Companies dealing with the fallout of the #MeToo era might soon have a powerful new weapon against workplace sexual harassment: virtual reality. VR and AR programs are quickly becoming popular training tools for many companies because they can provide a more realistic, reactive, and “real time” simulation of common workplace scenarios. As the technology continues to develop in quality and become more available and affordable, a wider variety of companies have started to experiment with the use of VR within their training programs.
As a result, several VR firms are teaming up with human resource officers to develop VR-based training programs to combat sexual harassment. The hope is that the emerging technology will be able to convey more realistic simulations of a sexual harassment scenario than the traditional video-based or text-based simulations, and that these simulations will help train workers to recognize and respond to harassment in real time. Some VR firms are even going a step further by developing VR-based therapies for survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
The early returns are promising, and the investment itself is no surprise. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many companies faced severe backlash and financial repercussions, often in the millions of dollars, due to the volume of women finally confronting harassers and demanding action. It is not a trend that will be slowing down either, with “Sexual Harassment” being a yearly top 10 concern in SIOP’s “Workplace Trends”. For larger organizations more at risk for sexual harassment liabilities, the investment in higher quality training programs is a no-brainer. This is not to ignore the basic fact that sexual harassment is bad, and any investment in prevention is a good thing.