The United States has been very much at the forefront of the sexual harassment at work scandal, with the allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein triggering a flood of revelations about the harassment suffered by women across the US, Europe and beyond.
Unfortunately, despite this increased focus on sexual harassment in the workplace, a new survey has revealed that only 32% of working Americans said that their employer has taken new steps to prevent and address this type of discrimination.
According to the survey, by the American Psychological Association, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18%).
Only 10% of U.S. workers said their employer has added more training or resources related to sexual harassment since the recent increased media and public attention on this serious workplace problem. Just 8% said their employer implemented a more stringent policy related to sexual harassment, and only 7% reported that their employer hosted an all-staff meeting to discuss sexual harassment.
Interestingly, the survey also found evidence of differing outcomes when women have representation in upper management. Employees in organisations that have women in senior leadership roles said they were more likely to report sexual harassment at work if they experienced it (56%) or witnessed it (55%), and confront a co-worker who is engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior at work (53%), compared with employees in organisations that don’t have women in senior leadership roles (39%, 41% and 34% respectively).
“While the lack of meaningful change is not entirely surprising, it is disappointing”, said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organisational Excellence.
“The #MeToo movement has given business leaders an opportunity to finally take real action addressing a complex problem that has been pervasive for generations,” he added. “Our survey — as well as anecdotal reports — shows that too few employers are making comprehensive efforts that can have significant impact.”
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