It’s been one year since news broke about Harvey Weinstein, sparking the #MeToo movement. Since that time, one-third of executives have altered their actions to avoid behaviors that could be perceived as sexual harassment, according to new data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). These changes in behavior have resulted as executives witness how sexual harassment affects staff and the company bottom line. They rate the biggest impacts as:
- Decreased morale (cited by 23 percent);
- Decreased engagement (23 percent);
- Decreased productivity (18 percent);
- Increased hostile work environment (15 percent); and
- Increased turnover (13 percent).
And while 72 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their company’s efforts to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, more than one-third still believe their workplace fosters sexual harassment.
“The fact that some workplace cultures still foster sexual harassment says there is more work to be done,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of SHRM. “We need a rules-plus approach – organizations need policies and training, but it is the education piece that creates culture change.”
Having a third of executives report changed behavior is significant, Taylor said. “Yet, we can’t let the pendulum swing too far. Organizations must be careful not to create a culture of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and we cannot tolerate other unintended consequences.”
One troubling trend, said Taylor, is that some executives report going as far as to not invite female colleagues on business trips, to evening networking events or into their inner circles to avoid any situation that could be perceived incorrectly, thus reducing the opportunity for women.
Executives surveyed believe that the most effective ways to influence workplace culture to stop sexual harassment and foster a safe environment are:
- Enhancing HR’s ability to investigative allegations without retaliation (cited 45 percent),
- Conducting independent reviews of all workplace misconduct investigations (44 percent), and;
- Increasing diversity in leadership roles (39 percent).
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