20% of Men and 60% of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment

The #metoo movement represents a culture shift that’s long overdue. I wouldn’t want my daughter or granddaughters to feel they had to sleep with the boss to get a promotion.

The only troubling thing about the #metoo movement is it feels offensive, at this time, to question a person’s claim that a co-worker touched them inappropriately. Every accusation isn’t true, even if most are.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as, “unwelcome . . . verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . “

Who experiences sexual harassment:

A recent poll indicates that 20% of men and 60% of women have been sexually harassed. (First seen in the NYPost.)

4 ways to prevent sexual harassment at work:

#1. Leaders set the tone.

Tolerance is endorsement and practice is encouragement. When you tell dirty jokes, others tell dirty jokes to fit in.

  1. Set a tone of respect.
  2. Exemplify courtesy.
  3. Point out inappropriate language or behavior. A simple, “We don’t do that here,” for first offenses is a useful starting point.
  4. Treat public offenses publicly. Don’t pull someone aside when others hear them say, “She’s hot!” Speak immediately. “Whoa, we don’t talk about our colleagues like that.”

#2. Romantic or sexual attraction is no excuse for harassment.

If you want to date a co-worker, speak plainly. There’s no room for nuance in this area. Don’t begin with winks, smiles, and lingering touches.

“I wonder if you would be open to having dinner with me?”

If the answer is no, she didn’t really mean yes.

#3. Proactively assess your culture.

The EEOC recommends surveying employees to see if you’re building a safe environment.

#4. Adopt proportional response.

Don’t fire a manager because he let his hand linger on an employee’s shoulder and she felt uncomfortable.

  1. Address offenses quickly.
  2. Establish accountability.
  3. Describe future consequences.

How might leaders prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?

The EEOC’s full report on harassment is here. Click on Appendix B for an employer checklist.