Despite the recent spotlight on workplace sexual harassment issues, few employers have taken action to prevent and/or address sexual harassment concerns in the workplace, according to a survey of employees by the American Psychological Association. Only 32 percent of working Americans said that their employer has taken new prevention steps to their workplace, according to a survey.
Some employers remind workers about existing training and resources, but few take new prevention steps, reported employees. The most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 percent), the survey found.
“Workplace Sexual Harassment: Are Employers Actually Responding?” from APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence was conducted online by Harris Poll from Feb. 15-March 1, 2018, among 1,512 U.S. adults who are employed full-time, part-time or self-employed. The data were collected as part of APA’s 2018 Work and Well-Being Survey.
While the lack of meaningful change is not entirely surprising, it is disappointing, said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “Our survey — as well as anecdotal reports — shows that too few employers are making comprehensive efforts that can have significant impact,” Ballard said.
Only 10 percent of U.S. workers said their employer has added more training or resources related to sexual harassment. Just 8 percent said their employer implemented a more stringent policy related to sexual harassment, and only 7 percent reported that their employer hosted an all-staff meeting to discuss the issue.
Research has shown training to recognize and report sexual harassment isn’t enough to change employee behavior or a workplace culture where harassment is more likely to occur. Instead, psychologists recommend a comprehensive approach that incorporates fair policies that are clearly communicated, ongoing training, leadership support of a civil and respectful culture, and the hiring and promotion of women into senior leadership roles.
“For training to produce long-term changes, the organization’s workplace practices need to align with and support the individual attitudes and behaviors it’s trying to promote,” Ballard said. “Leaders in a psychologically healthy workplace model civility, respect, fairness and trust.” That’s good for people and profits.
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