Amalgam Insights: Use of Virtual Reality offers a better solution to sexual harassment awareness workplace training

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Virtual, first-person experience viscerally conveys effects of discrimination behavior far better than traditional computer-based training

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“There is no better way for a middle-aged, Caucasian male to ‘feel’ the prejudice or sexual harassment (or discrimination) than to put that man in a first-person VR environment where they are that other individual."

Despite the recent spate of allegations of sexual harassment against a wide range of public figures, many firms are still overlooking the use of advanced technology to help them implement sexual harassment awareness training that could ultimately save them millions of dollars.

Writing on the Amalgam Insights blog, veteran industry analyst Todd Maddox says the use of virtual reality (VR) in workplace awareness training offers a better solution than traditional computer-based training, which he calls “ineffective” and “less effective for learning soft skills such as appropriate interpersonal interactions and real-time communication, or for training true empathy for another’s situation.”

Maddox says VR-based awareness training delivers a far more visceral, personal experience; “There is no better way for a middle-aged, Caucasian male to ‘feel’ the prejudice or sexual harassment that a young, female African-American might experience or to ‘feel’ the discrimination that many members of the LGBT community feel, than to put that man in a first-person VR environment where they are that other individual,” he writes.

Sexual harassment claims can be costly to a company, not only in reputation but to its bottom line as well. USA Today* cites several recent incidents:

  • A former physician assistant in California was awarded more than $82 million in 2012 against the hospital where she worked.
  • Fox News paid $20 million last year to settle a lawsuit filed by a former anchor against the company’s former CEO.
  • The NBA’s New York Knicks settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former executive for $11.5 million in 2007.

Learning Solutions magazine recently reported that researchers at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interactions Lab (VHIL) found that “immersive experiences have a far more powerful—and lasting—impact on attitudes and behavior than other media experiences, whether those involve reading text, watching ordinary video, or taking part in interactive exercises or simulations.” VHIL is currently engaged in a VR-based project that addresses how people react to various forms of racism through what it calls a “virtual shoes” experience. Maddox agrees, noting that VR-based harassment awareness training can ultimately better reduce the risk of an unhealthy workplace environment.

Several companies, he notes, have already begun work on VR-based tools that will help other firms implement this advanced form of training. “Traditional computer based training should not be discarded,” Amalgam Insight’s Maddox says, “but it focuses more on a sterile approach to knowledge. Combined with the VR experience, workers will be able to feel it for themselves. That will make the learning more complete, and will ultimately pay dividends not only for the companies that implement it, but for society in general.”

About Amalgam Insights
Amalgam Insights (http://www.amalgaminsights.com) is a consulting and strategy firm focused on the transformative value of Technology Consumption Management. AI believes that all businesses must fundamentally reimagine their approach to data, design, cognitive augmentation, pricing, and technology usage to remain competitive. AI provides marketing and strategic support to enterprises, vendors, and institutional investors for conducting due diligence in Technology Consumption Management.

*https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/10/25/sexual-harassment-here-some-biggest-cases/791439001/

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