American Conference on Diversity’s free harassment prevention forum drew a significant crowd of human-resource representatives, healthcare providers, and academic, government, and nonprofit leaders from more than 20 organizations throughout New Jersey all eager to hear Esther Nevarez, Special Assistant to the Director & Community Relations Coordinator at the NJ Division of Civil Rights.

Held on October 18 at the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Tinton Falls and sponsored by our Jersey Shore chapter, this event explored what organizations need to do to ensure they are in compliance with the law. It is one of many community forums the American Conference on Diversity hosts to promote diversity and inclusion and anti-bias learning.

The forum kicked off with a breakfast buffet, followed by a nearly two-hour presentation and Q&A. Nevarez’ “Harassment Prevention in the Employment & Academic Environment” covered the breadth of noncompliant scenarios, from religious and sexual harassment to harassment because of one’s appearance, and was peppered with real-life and sometimes graphic cases.

“Through our years of experience working with companies, communities, and schools, we know situations don’t get to the ‘boiling’ point without there being some sort of back story,” says Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President & CEO of the American Conference on Diversity. “That’s why our programs are designed to be proactive, getting to the root causes of biases and prejudices before a situation develops, and not to simply be reactive to situations in which our intersections of culture collide.”

Topics covered during the forum included:

  • Defining a “reasonable person” standard
  • Monitoring the dynamics of diversity versus measuring it
  • Determining intent versus impact

“The American Conference on Diversity is committed to working with clients to best understand the impact of early messages and how bias conditioning leads to negative interactions among people. Our services are customized and practical for various work settings. Our priority is to be proactive through education, community forums, and experiential learning,” said Williams-Riley in her presentation response.

Co-sponsors of the event included: Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, Monmouth Ocean Development Council, NJ College, and University Professional Association of Human Resources.