Politics

Bloomberg's company announces new mandatory sexual harassment training

Key Points
  • In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday afternoon, Bloomberg LP underlined its "zero tolerance" policy for harassment, while announcing a mandatory training program to prevent harassment.
  • All employees will be required to complete the program, which was introduced last year.
  • The memo was circulated to employees Tuesday afternoon, ahead of Mike Bloomberg's second run at the debate stage in South Carolina. He took heat over harassment in the previous debate.
Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, speaks at CityLab Detroit, a global city summit, on October 29, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano | Getty Images

After Mike Bloomberg took a beating in his first appearance on a Democratic debate stage for alleged harassment and non-disclosure agreements at Bloomberg LP, the company he founded is ramping up its sexual harassment training.

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of Bloomberg's second debate appearance, the company underlined its "zero tolerance" policy for harassment, while announcing a new mandatory program to prevent harassment.

"I want to underscore our long-standing commitment at Bloomberg LP to creating a culture that makes all employees feel safe, supported and empowered to thrive in their careers," Ken Cooper, head of human resources, wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNBC. "Today, I want to highlight an important step that we're taking to ensure we have best-in-class workplace policies and procedures."

The program comes on top of existing harassment training has been mandatory for more than a decade, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC.

The memo did not mention that the new program comes in addition to a previously existing mandatory program, although it did emphasize the company's policy against harassment and discrimination.

Cooper, who said that "Bloomberg has long had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment and discrimination," said the company last year partnered with the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire to create a program called Bringing in the Bystander.

Bringing in the Bystander is a form of harassment training that helps employees "understand how to respond if they witness inappropriate behavior," he said. The course was introduced as optional training in June 2019.

Bloomberg LP will now make the program mandatory for all to take by April 3, due to the "highly positive feedback" it has received from the more than 1,200 participants that have taken it, Cooper said.

Cooper in 2018 read research showing "bystander training"s effectiveness in the military and asked his Talent & Leadership Development team to bring it to Bloomberg, the person familiar with the situation said. Bloomberg later partnered with the University of New Hampshire to develop a course tailored for Bloomberg, based on a program that UNH is taking to other companies.

The memo comes as Bloomberg has had to answer to a barrage of criticism for past offensive comments he has made and allegations of mistreatment of females at Bloomberg LP. A number of women have signed NDAs with the company. He took heat again over NDAs on Tuesday night in the early stages of the South Carolina debate.

During last week's debate in Nevada, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts brought those criticisms to the stage. She railed against Bloomberg for having called women "fat broads" and "horse-faced lesbians." She also took him to task for not releasing the women who had signed non-disclosure agreements from their bounds of confidentiality.

Later that week, Bloomberg announced he will release women from three non-disclosure agreements with his media company if they wanted. He also said the company will no longer offer NDAs "to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward."

Bloomberg board chairman, Peter Grauer, later that day wrote an email to employees reiterating the ban against further NDAs. He also told employees, "we will continue to partner with our Human Resources team to ensure that our workplace policies are at the forefront of industry."

While Bloomberg is running for president, he has relinquished leadership of the company over to a management committee.

Here's the memo:

To the Bloomberg team:

To echo Peter's message sent on Friday, I want to underscore our longstanding commitment at Bloomberg LP to creating a culture that makes all employees feel safe, supported and empowered to thrive in their careers. Today, I want to highlight an important step that we're taking to ensure we have best-in-class workplace policies and procedures.

Bloomberg has long had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment and discrimination. This means that all of us have an obligation to report instances of unethical or unlawful conduct. Last year, we partnered with the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire to create "Bringing in the Bystander." Bystander intervention is among the most proven measures of harassment prevention, and this unique, evidence-based training was designed to help our employees understand how to respond if they witness inappropriate conduct.

This course has been available as optional training since June 2019, and 1200+ participants have already taken it. Given the highly positive feedback we've received, we've decided that all employees should complete the course. Please do so by Friday, April 3. Click here to take the course if you haven't yet: BU 16739 <GO>.

While we always encourage employees to raise concerns to their manager, HR or Compliance directly, there is also EthicsPoint. This is a way for employees to report issues through a secure and confidential third-party portal, an option that we've had in place for several years. To view our full anti-harassment policy, visit POLY ID:3609170 <GO>.

We are proud to have been recognized recently as a leading company for personal and professional growth, as well as inclusion. We will continue to innovate and lead the way in enhancing workplace policies and programs for our people around the world.

Ken

VIDEO2:2802:28
Bloomberg was left battered after the Nevada Democratic debate—Watch the key moments