Remember your company\u2019s last sexual harassment training? It\u2019s understandable if the answer is no; these trainings are outdated and ineffective. Most studies show that training is based on content from the 1980s and the 1990s, and even that\u2019s focused on how to avoid litigation \u2013 not on actual strategies for preventing harassment in the first place.\nOther studies show that sexual harassment didn\u2019t decline in organizations that provided training. In fact, this article from Psychology Today that looked at various studies over the years found:\n\n\u201cThe limited evidence available suggests this type of training is ineffective at preventing harassment. In\u00a0an early paper\u00a0reporting on a series of studies conducted in the 1990s, researchers looked at trainings that had been put in place as a result of settlement agreements at two employers, a large utility organization and an agricultural business. The overall conclusion of these studies was that training did not significantly change employees\u2019 attitudes toward sexual harassment. After the training, there was no evidence that sexual harassment decreased in those workplaces but there was an increase in complaints to human resources.\n"A second study\u00a0conducted in 2001 evaluated an anti-harassment program at a medium-sized university. This study found that some people who attended the training demonstrated a better\u00a0understanding\u00a0of what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it. Men who attended the training were more likely to say that sexual behavior at work was wrong, but they were less likely notice sexual harassment, less willing to report sexual harassment and more likely to blame the victim.\u00a0A more recent analysis\u00a0also found that most sexual harassment training is effective at increasing employees\u2019 knowledge about sexual harassment, but not necessarily changing their behaviors.\u201d\n\nSo, what\u2019s actually going to help eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace? The Psychology Today article suggests that organizational culture as a whole plays a large role in helping to shift behaviors and mindsets that contribute to harassment. And bystander intervention training has also proven effective, according to this article from The New York Times.\nI\u2019ve written ad nauseum about the need for every single person (especially those in the majority i.e. straight, white, cis men) to stand up and speak out when they see or hear harassment happening. When you see something, say something. That\u2019s great in the hypothetical, and we\u2019d all like to think we\u2019d be the person standing up against an offender. But in reality, it\u2019s a lot tougher than it sounds. Social pressure, not wanting to \u201crock the boat,\u201d fear of retaliation \u2014 all of those factors combine to silence even the most ardent social justice warriors.\nEnter virtual reality.\nVR company Vantage Point is a startup developing comprehensive, multi-step sexual harassment training programs experienced in virtual reality. Vantage Point offers tools for identifying sexual harassment and assault, stigma transformation, real-time response and reporting training, behavior correction, impact training and bystander intervention training.\n\u201cIt\u2019s one thing to go through a typical anti-harassment training. It\u2019s entirely another to be faced with a situation in real life,\u201d says Morgan Mercer, founder of Vantage Point. \u201cIt\u2019s called \u2018state-dependent learning,\u2019\u201d Mercer explains.\nLearning through experience better than classroom training\nWhile you might assume you can revert back to and remember your training, that doesn\u2019t always happen.\n\u201cIn the moment, the stress, the pressure, the emotional stimuli \u2014 the \u2018Oh, my God, what\u2019s happening? What do I do? How do I react? What if? What now?\u2019 reactions \u2014 flooding your brain are going to completely override any of the \u2018traditional\u2019 training or learning you may have done,\u201d she says.\nWith a VR solution, participants can actually experience a situation in which they\u2019re a bystander and practice responses, so that when the time comes, they can act and react in helpful and effective ways. Vantage Point\u2019s algorithms can also take into account unconscious biases and personal experiences, and they can be tailored to the needs of each individual participant to deliver the most relevant information, she explains.\n\u201cThe algorithms assess each participant\u2019s level of knowledge and awareness, and [they] tailor the training to that \u2014 it\u2019s like you get individualized training based on your level of \u2018wokeness.\u2019\u201d \u2014 Morgan Mercer\n\u201cThe algorithms assess each participant\u2019s level of knowledge and awareness, and [they] tailor the training to that \u2014 it\u2019s like you get individualized training based on your level of \u2018wokeness,\u2019\u201d she says. \u201cThat means that the training I would receive would be different from what you would receive, but it\u2019s still relevant and still effective.\u201d\nWhile Vantage Point is still new \u2014 Mercer and her team just secured their first investor \u2014 the potential here is incredible, and she says she\u2019s received an incredible number of requests from corporations, government entities and small businesses looking to leverage the technology.\n\u201cThere are so many use cases for how this can effect behavioral change. And with the new sense of empowerment around #MeToo and #TimesUp, I think we\u2019re going to be incredibly successful,\u201d she says.\nIt\u2019s a strange thing to say about anti-harassment training, but \u2014 how freakin\u2019 cool is that? I\u2019d sign up for this in a heartbeat! I\u2019m so excited to see where the company goes and, hopefully, to witness a future where everyone\u2019s more empowered to stand up and do the right thing.