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.
- Set a tone of respect.
- Exemplify courtesy.
- Point out inappropriate language or behavior. A simple, “We don’t do that here,” for first offenses is a useful starting point.
- 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.
- Address offenses quickly.
- Establish accountability.
- 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.
Great article. Through out my career I’ve become part of the 60% harassed. I have my concerns about the movement too and worry about people weaponising this.
We all do have responsibility for being clear with our messaging.
Thanks itrainum. (love the handle) … The term weaponising is descriptive. New movements may swing too far. They right themselves with time.
Learning to be clear, along with the courage to speak up, are part of development in this area.
Sorry you have been part of the 60%. I hope it was on the less severe end of the spectrum.
Dan. Shouldn’t we use she/he? Unwanted sexual attention can come from any source to any other source. Otherwise, solid advice for a leader at any level. Thanks
Thanks Don. I tried to be inclusive with the title of this post. But you are right unwanted sexual attention can come from any either gender.
By the way, I choose to mix the names of the Flintstones in some posts as a way of being inclusive. Sometimes it’s Wilma. Other times it’s Barney.
Having Training by a former employer on the subject, revolves around a strong corporate policy clearly stating the companies stance “that inapproriate sexual actions, harassment, verbal abuse, won’t be tolerated in the work place. Granted these rules need to be clear, concise and enforced, or its just another slap in the face to those whom are violated.
From a personal viewpoint people need to stand up for their rights, if they have been violated, take the proper actions, which based on the publicity of late, young people need to share with their parents or guardians, Guidance counselors at schools or other organizations that specialize in these incidents. My fear is how much is swept under the table, and hidden for years, take the Catholic church for example, They just moved the priests to another location not solving the problems for years. (Truly a disapointment in the eyes of many) from the church.
Then “Ten commandments” are only as good as they are followed, “No exclusions”!
I have two adult daughters and three granddaughters, so this topic isn’t just intellectual for me. Plus, I am a former psychotherapist and had clients who had to deal with sexual harassment at work. This is a leadership issue, first and foremost. Leaders, for the most part, are isolated and insulated–they’re not going to hear what they need to hear about sexual harassment until something blows up. It’s easy for them to dismiss all this and push it down to legal or HR–and just what message does that give? This isn’t going to go away, and it’s not a black and white issue that some workshop can fix. And as you point out, “New movements may swing too far”–but we have to start somewhere and we have to start now. Most companies are still in the “I’ll cross that bridge when we come to it stage.” Thanks for doing something about that, Dan.
I appreciate the employer checklists. Unfortunately, this happened to multiple people at a work site and ultimately, nothing was done. How do employers keep letting people get away with this?