Companies Taking Notice of Sexual Harassment Concerns
In the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against a number of high-profile individuals, it seems that public awareness of issues like workplace sexual harassment is at an all-time high. While one could certainly argue that many of the accusations were not related to employment scenarios, a large portion of them have been—at least indirectly. According to several surveys and various news outlets, the increase in awareness is having an effect on the approach that many companies are taking to address the issue.
More Than Half of Companies Have Reviewed Policies
Last month, a Chicago-based consulting company released the results of a survey it conducted, relying on answers provided by more than 150 human resources directors from across the country. The survey found that 52 percent of employers have reviewed their policies on sexual harassment since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began last October. Of those, nearly 60 percent made updates to their sexual harassment policies. Updates included “adding and clarifying reporting avenues and instituting ‘zero tolerance’ and anti-bullying policies when it comes to workplace harassment,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of the consulting company that conducted the survey.
The survey, however, found that HR reps are not seeing a great deal of change in behavior just yet. About 55 percent of respondents said that things have been business as usual in their companies, while just 14 percent said they have observed a more respectful workplace atmosphere.
Despite seeing few changes in behavior, 17 percent of participants reported an increase in the number of complaints about inappropriate behavior. Challenger said he was not surprised at “seeing more people come forward in the wake of #MeToo, as workers feel supported and empowered to do so.” According to reports, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw an increase in sexual harassment complaints in fiscal year 2016. Numbers for FY 2017 are not available but experts expect the upward trend to continue well into 2018 and beyond.
Fewer Employers Are Content with Their Policies
Challenger and his company conducted a similar survey in January of this year and comparing the results to those of June’s edition is telling. In January, as the sexual harassment awareness efforts were beginning to ramp up, nearly 63 percent of employers reported being comfortable with their existing policies on sexual harassment. In June, that number dropped by nearly one-third to just under 42 percent. It would seem that #MeToo and #TimesUp may be starting to have their intended effect, as more and more employers appear to recognize the role they play in stopping workplace sexual harassment.
Contact Us for Help
If you have been affected in any way by sexual harassment in the workplace, an experienced Illinois sexual harassment attorney can help you take appropriate action. Call 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.