If you need proof of just how rampant sexual harassment is today, turn on the news. Workplaces unfortunately are no different.
According to one article, a third of all working women have experienced sexual harassment in some degree or another.
For employers, business owners and those running organizations, this should be a dire cause for concern. Though many human resource services and professionals work hard to raise awareness, educate individuals and eradicate such unpleasant occurrences, it is crucial for owners and upper management to be 100% on board.
When dealing with harassment, sexual or otherwise, the first thing for those in proximity to do is recognize the problem. Of course, aggressors need to take ownership but that is a whole other discussion to be had!
We’re going to highlight a few facts associated with sexual harassment at the workplace.
Sexual harassment might not be industry specific. That being said, there is a greater incidence of reported sexual harassment in:
- Industries dominated largely by men.
- Service based jobs where there is a degree of obligation with regard to people pleasing.
- Low wage employees such as support staff, cleaning crews and factory workers.
Though in most cases, the victims of sexual harassment are women, occurrences where men are subject to the same are not uncommon.
Need to Know
One of the reasons why so many incidents of sexual harassment have gone unreported is because many employees are unaware about what sexual harassment constitutes. It was found that after employees were specifically enlightened on what categorizes as sexual harassment, there was a rise in reported cases. In other words, it’s not that it was never happening. It is just that victims did not know any better and hence failed to report.
Lack of Ownership
There is another very real reason that sexual harassment cases go unreported.
The likelihood is that the victim will not be taken seriously or believed. In more sinister cases; the victim could be blamed, ridiculed or even subject to unfair professional consequences. This is especially true when the aggressor holds a position of power within the organization which is quite often the case.
According to the EEOC, a staggering 75% of women who reported sexual harassment faced retaliation as opposed to received support! Forget the aggressor, there seems to be a stark organizational lack of ownership too!
The Occasional Seminar Won’t Cut It
Some organizations feel the annual (sometimes not even) seminars, talks and lectures they hold to address workplace sexual harassment are not good enough.
Sure, those are handy but there needs to be a streamlined and transparent system of reporting incidents. This should be backed by functional support structures for victims and consequences for transgressors. Last, but not least, the education, reflection and discussion should be an ongoing workplace affair.
You Lose More than Just Respect
Often companies feel they need to brush such incidents under the rug to maintain image. It is even worse when the harasser is a high ranking or golden employee.
That being said, times are changing and the truth does come out one way or another. If you do have a perpetrator in your midst, it makes more sense to address him/her appropriately as opposed to mitigate their transgression just to spend millions in lawsuits later!
Though we like to believe we’re evolved and above a lot of dark and twisted behavior, we’re not there yet. We have a long way to go. It doesn’t matter where, sexual harassment is not okay! And if you are in a position of power, maybe it’s time you stepped up.
If you require professional assistance and workforce advisory services look up your options and waste no time in getting the support you need! Remember, the longer you wait, the more dirt lands up on your company profile!
Develop for Results International is a boutique Employee Relations and Human Resources Advisory firm dedicated to providing resolution to all manner of employee problems in the workplace, specializing in handling conflicts so managers can focus on core tasks.