A recent study surveying over 2,200 part-time and full-time female employees concluded that sexual harassment is sadly still very rampant in American workplaces. It is estimated that about 1 in 3 women between the ages or 18-34 have been sexually harassed at work, and 81% of women have been verbally sexually harassed (jokes, name-calling, etc.). Although statistics show workplace sexual harassment overwhelmingly victimizes females, men are victims roughly 17%-20% (Read When Men Face Sexual Harassment by PshychologyToday). These are the three most common forms of workplace sexual harassment as defined (PshychologyToday):
- Sexual coercion: involving job-related threats or bribes to force unwilling workers to enter into a sexual relationship with the harasser. One example of this is when an employer threatens to fire an employee if he/she doesn’t agree to sex. While often the most damaging, most harassment tends not to be this blatant.
- Unwanted sexual attention: involving unwelcome sexual advances towards someone else in the workplace that are regarded as unwelcome or offensive. This can include sexual touching, and pressuring for a date. Since it can involve threats or bribes, there can be considerable overlap between this category and the first one.
- Gender harassment: involving hostile behavior aimed at undermining workers simply due to their gender. This can include denigrating comments, off-color jokes that are intended to be offensive, mocking, and even violent threats. Women expressing strong feminist ideals are often targeted this way. While this is the most common form of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is also the least likely to be seen as harassment.
“Both women and men have reported experiencing these three forms of sexual harassment in the workplace with other men being most likely to be the perpetrators” (PsychologyToday).
Workplace sexual harassment is still very prevalent in our workplaces victimizing both men and women, and we must actively address the issue BEFORE it happens. Not only so we can protect our business from crippling lawsuits, but more importantly, so we can avoid inflicting emotional distress on employees- the backbone of business operations and societal productivity. Workplace safety includes creating a culture where every employee feels safe and comfortable going to work.