Despite significantly improved awareness of hostile work environments, sexual harassment continues to plague employees. Detailed and strongly worded policies can make a difference in employee relations, workplace dynamics, and a company’s image and reputation.
Statistics reveal that 54 percent of women have experienced harassment in the workplace. Illegal actions have taken the form of unwanted touching, suggestive gestures, and outright requests for “favors.” Equally alarming is the up to 72 percent of victims not reporting the behavior for fear of losing their job or gaining an albeit false reputation as someone who stirs up trouble.
Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reveals that reports of sexual harassment increased by three percent each year from 2018 to 2021. Even Anita Hill, who gained prominence with her testimony in the hearings for eventual Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, claims that 45 percent of employees experienced sexual harassment. A vast majority are women.
An international problem
Sadly, the problem transcends the borders of the United States:
- The Canadian Labour Congress found that seven in 20 workers have experienced harassment and violence while at work, with close to one in two victimized by harassment and violence over the past two years
- Sixty-eight percent of female workers in Germany have reported sexual harassment
- Staff in Spain cite a lifetime stat of 66 percent, with 31 percent over the last 12 months
Equally demeaning is harassment outside the workplace, specifically walking down the street, and antics that help perpetuate all forms of sexually charged environments. A 2018 study by Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit devoted to documenting, addressing, and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, found that 81 percent of women have been victims of sexual harassment. That same study reported the following statistics:
- Seventy-seven percent of women were targeted for verbal sexual harassment
- Fifty-one percent were touched without permission
- Forty-one percent claimed online sexual harassment
- Twenty-seven percent count themselves as sexual harassment survivors
Simply put, sexual harassment remains a problem in desperate need of a solution.