Sexual Harassment Statistics Reveal Women Are Not the Only Victims
If you think women are the only ones being sexually harassed in the workplace, think again. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), men filed nearly one-fifth of all sexual harassment complaints. And that’s not all; LGBTQ individuals also face harassment in the workplace. A report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals the LGBTQ community faces high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Reporting that nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of LGBTQ individuals have been sexually harassed at work.
Sexual harassment affects everyone in your organization. You must consider sexual harassment protection rights for all the individuals you employ and find ways to eliminate sexual harassment in your workplace.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
The EEOC defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature, and asking for sexual favors. The harasser might be a supervisor, co-worker, a client or a customer. The harasser and victim may also be the same sex. A victim isn’t always the person who is directly harassed; sexual harassment occurs when anyone is affected by the offensive, unwelcomed conduct.
Examples of sexual harassment include when an employer or employee:
- Sends or receives a suggestive or sexually explicit email
- Refers to an employee in a sexist or demeaning manner
- Promises employment advances to another employee if they comply with sexual demands
- Gropes an employee
- Makes repeated unwelcome advances upon another employee
- Displays sexually suggestive pictures or objects in the workplace
- Stares inappropriately or makes sexual gestures at an employee
Facts and Statistics
A long-term study published in the American Sociological Review examined the different rates between male and female harassment reports amongst single-gender dominated industries. The study found that female supervisors in both male and female-dominated industries reported the highest rate of sexual harassment. This same study also reported that men in nonsupervisory roles reported harassment on average more than women in nonsupervisory roles, regardless of industry gender dominance. This sample indicates that the harassment gap between men and women is not as wide as some assume. Many states seek to further improve sexual harassment legislature to improve incident report rates and provide greater protection to employees.
- Eight states require employers to provide sexual harassment training
- Legislation is in development in Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia to protect employees from non-disclosure agreements
What This Means for Organizations
It is illegal to dismiss a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment in the workplace is not to be taken lightly and there are various investigatory steps you can take to ensure proper action is taken.
No sexual harassment complaint should be deemed innocuous. Investigation and documentation are necessary to help managers and supervisors track evidence. And, If the case goes to the EEOC, you’ll have the documentation you need to properly support your position.
It’s best to be prepared and strictly follow your organization’s policies, even if this means firing a high-level employee for violations. Failure to respond to harassment allegations can result in lawsuits and damage to your company’s reputation.
One source examining sexual harassment found the following:
- Reduced workplace morale
- Reduced productivity
- Higher legal fees
- Increased turnover rates
- Increased sick leave
How to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Take the necessary precautions to prevent sexual harassment and communicate that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Make sure that your employees and supervisors know you enforce a “zero tolerance” policy and be clear about the consequences of violating said policy. Be sure that all employees understand that you will investigate any allegation thoroughly and won’t tolerate retaliation against any individual who reports sexual harassment.
At a minimum, sexual harassment training courses should supply all employees with a clear definition of sexual harassment, a method for reporting harassment, and harassment response training for managers and supervisors. Employers should implement a sexual harassment policy that contains a clear grievance process and prioritizes immediate action. Lastly, It is essential to provide sexual harassment training for all employees and provide training materials that reiterate your organization’s policy. Training should be conducted during onboarding for all new hires and should meet sexual harassment training requirements for your state.