August 12, 2019
Two years since the launch of the #MeToo movement, awareness about the prevalance of sexual harassment — and its impact — has never been higher. We’ve witnessed massive women’s marches in the nation’s cities (and around the world), signaling an end to the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ history of silence and shame about sexual harassment incidents. As more and more people feel safe and supported to speak up, we’ve seen allegations against even the most high-profile figures in politics, Hollywood and every other corner of American life, encouraging even more conversation and frank talk about the effects of harassment on our emotional and mental health — and in our careers.
More and more, companies that take pride in delivering superior goods and services are the same ones being recognized as ‘best-places-to-work’, creating the positive work culture that attracts, supports and retains the best employees. For these pace-setters, positive work culture isn’t simply a branding strategy — it’s a moral imperative that drives every major business decision. These are the companies that are taking a proactive approach to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, enacting zero tolerance policies for misconduct, more thorough response plans to handle complaints, and mandatory training and education programs for employees.
With HR professionals and managers taking all of these great steps, which of the statements below would you guess is true of sexual and sex-based harassment in today’s workplace?
Statistics say the answer is B, and yet both may be true. An analysis of a decade’s worth of data by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the number of charges filed with the agency alleging sex-based harassment reached the 13,000 mark for the first time in 2018. At the same time, overall charges related to discrimination were down. The rise in charges doesn’t appear to be a result of people acting worse than ever, but of people standing up for themselves more confidently than ever.