According to a 2016 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, around one-third of women experience sexual harassment at work. However, women in California and throughout the country may be hesitant to report harassment for a number of reasons including concerns about how it will affect their careers or that they will not be believed. Three-fourths of women who suffered sexual harassment did not discuss it with a union representative or supervisor. Gender discrimination is also an issue, and women report that men are often paid more and promoted more frequently.
Men can help reduce the incidence of harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace by refusing to participate in conversations that include offensive sexual comments. Holding other men accountable is important. Senior management must hold people accountable as well. It is necessary to demonstrate that sexual harassment allegations will be dealt with promptly and that the perpetrators will be terminated if necessary.
A strongly worded policy along with a third-party contact for people experiencing sexual harassment can send a strong message. In some high-profile pending sexual harassment cases, human resources departments helped cover up harassment and protect perpetrators. In some cases, the EEOC may become involved in lawsuits, and the outcome can be costly for employers.
There are several different ways that sexual harassment can affect a person at work. Certain types of behavior may create a hostile work environment. In addition to this, an employee may also suffer from what is known as "quid pro quo" harassment. This means that a person may be offered something in exchange for sexual activity, such as being able to keep a job. However, employees should be aware that they are protected against less overt forms of sexual harassment as well.