The Genesis of Workplace Training Network
It was October 1991. In my office, above the stage of the playhouse I built and operated in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, I sat riveted — nay, mesmerized — watching the Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill hearings on a tiny, desktop TV. For many of us outside the labor law community, that was the dawning of awareness about sexual harassment.
Watching those hearings, I had a prophetic thought: “This would make an amazing play.”
The embryonic idea that formed during the Thomas–Hill hearings took root. I left the theater to explore entertainment as a vehicle for workplace education. Friends of mine in human resources, where sexual harassment was now a hot topic, were eager for innovative methodology. An HR manager in San Diego put together a focus group to try it out. I teamed up with a lawyer/actor, we wrote and performed three issue-packed episodes, and the HR manager facilitated discussion around our “living hypotheticals.” The engagement and participation were off the charts. The concept had legs.
In 1992, the Tailhook scandal erupted. Lt. Paula Coughlin, a victim of sexual assault at the convention, went on television and told all after she reported the wrongdoing to her superiors and was unceremoniously shut down. Repercussions from the Tailhook scandal were seismic, particularly in San Diego, where many of the alleged perpetrators were based. The Navy declared a stand-down day when 4,000+ personnel would gather at the Convention Center for eight hours of sexual harassment awareness training led by retired Navy Commander Dr. Kay Krohne.
For Dr. Krohne, facing 4,000 military folks who didn’t want to be there for eight hours with only a podium and projector was a daunting prospect, so our collaboration was welcome. I wrote — and an ensemble of professional actors and I performed in — a series of realistic, hard-hitting, nuanced scenes evoking the military workplace. There was just the right amount of humor to get the medicine down, providing our military audience with living, breathing examples to explore and assess.
And then the requests for this unique training poured in.
We became road warriors with Dr. Krohne and in smaller sessions, the methodology was honed, our subject matter expertise grew exponentially, and we developed the foundational constructs that today define our signature training. My co-trainer and I became recognized as accomplished facilitators and subject matter experts on our own.
Since that time we have continually evolved, growing into what Workplace Training Network is today by educating through informative and interactive dramatizations, collaborating with leading industry experts, and listening to our clients’ needs.
– WTN President and Founder, Kit Goldman