VIIAA Members and Prospects:
Below we have assembled answers to the questions you ask us most frequently. We hope they help. Submit additional questions to email@example.com.
Q: We have lawyers, why do we need VIIAA?
A: Lawyers are great. Most of the VIIAA team are lawyers, and many VIIAA members are lawyers, but let’s be very frank for a moment. In the years leading up to #MeToo, some lawyers told HR executives to pay people off to make allegations go away, shuffle people around, and hope nobody was bold enough to speak out. Now, lawyers are playing a different tune, and that’s a needed change, but they’re largely being reactive. VIIAA is leading toward a different future. Lawyers represent the organization’s interest. VIIAA is a more holistic organization, blending employer interests with what best serves those charged with resolving claims of discrimination, and those facing and making claims of discrimination. VIIAA offers value for all who are at the table, because societal change is needed and underway. We need skills and tools to address a new and evolving normal, and that isn’t one where corporate interest trumps all others. An organization is an ecology where all the functional parts of that ecology have a critical role to play, and their interests must be represented. Lawyers speak lawyer-by-lawyer and firm-by-firm, but they don’t have a unified voice. The function of an association is to be the voice of a field in a way that individual practitioners cannot. VIIAA is here to set a tone and direction for thousands of professionals, to speak to issues at the level of society and nationally. You need your lawyers, but you need VIIAA, too, for different reasons.
Q: Is VIIAA focused only on #MeToo?
A: No, VIIAA’s mission is to help employers address all forms of discrimination prohibited by law. That mission encompasses age, sex, race, disability, national origin, ethnicity, genetically pre-determined characteristics, gender identity, gender expression, religion, and other protected classes. VIIAA has a particular interest and focus on #MeToo-based allegations because of the intricacies of investigation and liability that arise from this cultural shift, but we pay no less attention to getting it right on race and disability than we do on sex. In some ways, because the #MeToo cases are the toughest, achieving mastery of the skills needed to address sex discrimination gives you more than 90% of the skills needed to effectively address all other forms of discrimination. The nuances matter, and at VIIAA, we stress the need to understand that differentiating 10% deeply, but we also appreciate that civil rights is civil rights, and that the intersectionality of this work allows most of the subject matter expertise to translate across multiple forms of invidious discrimination. In fact, it would be inequitable to treat race discrimination materially differently than sex discrimination. Where they need to differ, we need to know exactly why and how, but the commonalities predominate.
Q: We’ve seen mention on the site of VIIAA conference and events…where do we find more information about these?
A: In 2021, VIIAA has planned two regional certification training events. Those will be calendared and officially announced soon. Additionally, VIIAA’s showcase event is ICOSH, the International Conference on Sexual Harassment, slated for 2021. Planning is well underway, and announcements for ICOSH will be made in early 2020. ICOSH is a unique event, because it’s a big tent, bringing together hundreds of professionals who all have an interest in sexual harassment. At ICOSH, VIIAA members who represent employers mix with advocates, activists, legal scholars, researchers, lawyers who defend employers, lawyers who sue employers, interest groups, policy-makers, and many others. At VIIAA, we feel strongly that our members need to hear from a broad cross-section of the players in the field. We have to listen to our critics, learn from our detractors, study the leading edge of progress, understand the technology, and apply the solutions. ICOSH brings all the key players into dialogue for three days of important conversations, all under one roof.
Q: So, whose side is VIIAA on?
A: Legitimate question, especially these days. VIIAA is trying to solve a problem no one else has cracked; how best to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We are independent, impartial, and non-partisan. We don’t think you can solve this by taking sides.
Q: We’re members of SHRM, HRCI, etc. Why do we need VIIAA, too?
A: If those associations were enough, you wouldn’t be reading this. We believe in the mission and vision of SHRM, HRCI, etc., so please understand we’re not trying to compete with them. There is certainly a need for them, and they’re well-established. But, the creators of VIIAA identified a gap in the field and created this association to fill it. None of the other associations are doing so. It’s “both” not “either, or,” as you seek to add tools to your toolbox. As we’ve said elsewhere, associations like SHRM have amazing breadth. VIIAA is aiming for amazing depth. SHRM debates a huge range of issues but our subject matter expertise in the topics we own is unmatched. Walk around at SHRM, and so many members have questions about sexual harassment, but they’re not finding answers there. The vendors aren’t providing solutions. Workplace investigator certifications are great, but they don’t tell you what to do about #MeToo and train on ways to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. VIIAA is specifically focused on the holistic prevention, reduction, investigation, and resolution of harassment and discrimination claims, not just on the investigation function.