Harassment | What can HR learn from Netflix's new controversial series?

What can HR learn from Netflix's new controversial series?

The new Netflix series, Selling Sunset, follows a handful of elite real estate brokers working for The Oppenheim Group who endeavour to sell the life of luxury to affluent buyers in and around Los Angeles.

And while it seems that many wealthy buyers have benefitted from the advice and hospitality of these knowledgeable estate brokers, the new series has shed light on some key HR issues.

Lack of diversity

The brokerage is headed by twins Brett and Jason Oppenheim with a flock of female agents working for them.

With diversity and inclusion being such a hot topic at the moment, it is surprising that the Oppenheim pair have failed to employ any male estate agents.

Additionally, whilst one agent is from Israeli descent, the series shows a stark lack of ethnic diversity.

Any HR practitioners will be aware that a diverse workforce breeds a diversity of thought and has huge business benefits.

According to MicKinsey, companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity were 35% more likely to financially outperform competitors.

And, Forbes reported that encouraging inclusive teams cultivates better business decisions 87% of the time. So, there is a huge benefit to everyone.

Sexual harassment

Episode one of the series showed worrying levels of sexual harassment that didn’t go unnoticed online.

One agent was showing a male client around an impressive hilltop mansion. Throughout the encounter, he continually made passes at her. His behaviour clearly made her feel uncomfortable as she continually reminded him that she was married and her body language screamed discomfort.

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The client also made uncomfortable jokes and was persistent that one of the agents went out for drinks with him so that they could talk more about the property after the viewing.

Twitter user @pendants_united wrote: “The women of #SellingSunset are constantly getting sexually harassed on film.” In this instance, Vander [one of the agents] should have reported this kind of inappropriate behaviour, regardless of whether it is from a colleague or client, to HR or someone in the senior leadership team to help resolve the situation.

Taking personal calls at work

In one scene, one of the agents halts her business meeting with a Property Stager to take a FaceTime call from her partner. Despite the fact that they are enduring a long-distance relationship, it was an entirely unprofessional move that left the Property Stager far from impressed.

While many employers practice a zero mobile phone tolerance policy, it is often deemed acceptable to make or take emergency phone calls. However, HR would have a severe problem on its hands if they had staff continually abusing mobile phone policies whilst they were supposed to be working

Bullying in the workplace

One of the agents' tyrannical behaviour towards colleagues didn’t go unnoticed by viewers either. @joyokpoko_ wrote on Twitter: “hm.. so Christine explicitly shared her sob story about being bullied in her past, but had no problem being the bully in the workplace. Stop excusing tearing down other women as being ‘straightforward’.”

From our content partner

While some employees have an obviously vicious tongue, others can be more manipulative with their tormenting styles. And this means that sometimes workplace bullying isn’t as easy to spot. But, here are five tell-tale signs that may indicate staff being bullied at work according to bullying.co.uk:

  • Employees being criticised constantly and having duties stripped for no reason

  • Colleagues shouting and aggressive behaviour or threats

  • Individuals being mocked or verbally attacked by colleagues

  • Staff being picked on or made fun of

  • People ignored or excluded from workplace activities.

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