• Zach Clark, CPA, CFE

The inequality of harassment & how to make real change.

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

Studies show that in the workplace, there is at least one thing that women disproportionately receive much more of than their male co-workers: sexual harassment.

In their 2018 annual Poverty and Inequality special report, the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality notes that "women are subjected to the most frequent and severe forms of sexual harassment", with a third of all working women, age 25-26, reporting that they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. And, as one would expect, the research shows that the effects of this harassment are severe.

The researchers found that those workers who suffered harassment endured physical and psychological consequences including sleep problems, increased rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as diminished self-esteem and self-confidence. And the effects of harassment were not limited to these physical and psychological issues.

80% of women in the study reported that in response to harassment they made the extremely difficult decision to change their primary job, compared to only 3% that filed a lawsuit. And, with many respondents reporting that they suffered ostracism and career stagnation as a result of staying with their employer and making a report, it is not difficult to see why so many women would simply choose to change their employer in order to resolve the situation.

While one might draw from these results, as have lawmakers around the country, that we simply need to increase the amount of sexual harassment training in order to reduce harassment, this is a flawed approach, as there is a significant amount of evidence that exists indicating that training alone is simply not enough.

In the article "Companies not doing enough to combat sexual harassment" David Ballard, the Director of the American Psychological Association's Center for Organizational Excellence notes that: "we know from psychological science that relying solely on mandated training designed primarily to limit the organization's legal liability is unlikely to be effective".

At Open Ears we have heard this message loud and clear. We know that the time for real change is now, and we have designed our online anonymous reporting tools to empower and protect women in the workforce.

By giving your workforce the ability to make anonymous tips to your organization's leadership not only do you empower your employees to stop current harassment, but you also proactively protect them from future incidents in a real and tangible way that cannot be provided by training alone.

Show your employees that you care, show your employees that you take harassment seriously, and show them that your ears are open to their concerns.

Article Sources:

1. Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality - State of the Union (Special Issue 2018)

2. Companies Not Doing Enough to Combat Sexual Harassment: Survey