Will Talking about Workplace Sexual Harassment Bring Change?

Slim majority say yes, but 44 percent are doubtful

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek November 9, 2017

More victims—women and men—are coming forth about their experiences with sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, prompting increased openness about discussing the issue and creating protections and remedies.

The Chicago City  Council passed the "Hands Off Pants On" ordinance requiring all hotels in the city to adopt a panic button system and an anti-sexual harassment policy. The ordinance was passed after months of lobbying efforts by local hospitality workers. A New York lawmaker introduced a law that would protect fashion models from harassment regardless of their status as independent contractor or employee.

And CNN hosted a town hall discussion, "Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America," Thursday night.

But while 52 percent of Americans said in a recent CNN poll that they think sharing personal stories of harassment on social media will reduce incidents  of such reprehensible behavior, a substantial percentage were pessimistic about whether things will change for the better. Forty-four percent think that attention to this issue will make it harder for men and women to interact in the workplace, CNN reported.

We've rounded up the latest news on sexual harassment at work. Here are SHRM Online resources and news articles from other trusted media outlets. 

Senate Passes Measure Requiring Sexual Harassment Training for Senators, Aides 

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to require senators and aides to undergo sexual harassment training. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also requires training in preventing discrimination based on race, religion and disability. In a statement, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a lead sponsor of the bill, said that "everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable at work, and the passage of this official Senate policy is an important measure to ensure that's the case in these halls."


Gretchen Carlson: Rehire Women Who Reported Harassment, Fire Predators 

After former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson went public with sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes, scores of women reached out to her with their own similar stories, she said. One common theme emerged: The women lost their jobs one way or another while their harassers kept theirs, she said. Carlson said she has a proposal to companies: hire those women back and let go of the predators.

Creator of #MeToo Is Ready to Move Forward 

Now that it's clear that sexual violence is a problem, the creator of #MeToo would like the conversation to change. It's time to focus on the systems that allow sexual violence to flourish.

Despite Awareness, Training and Strict Laws, Workplace Sexual Harassment Is Rampant

A recent poll demonstrated the extent to which women encounter inappropriate sexual conduct from men across U.S. society. It indicated that about 33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed, and 14 million sexually abused, in work-related incidents. And nearly all of them report that their male harassers were never punished. 
(SHRM Online)   

6 Subtle Signs People Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work but Don't Realize It

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. But it doesn't have to be of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can also include offensive remarks about a person's sex.
(Business Insider)  

After Weinstein Scandals, How Will Men Change Their Behavior? 

In the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct and rape by media mogul Harvey Weinstein, there is some concern over whether reaction to the scandals will impact women's advancement in the workplace. There may be "unintended consequences," with men avoiding closed-door meetings or solo after-hours business gatherings with female colleagues, according to The New York Times. However, advocates for women advise men to be allies and not shun their female colleagues to avoid the appearance of impropriety. 
(SHRM Online)  

[SHRM members-only resource: Sexual Harassment Policy Complaint and Investigation Procedure]

5 Ways Men Can Address and Help Prevent Sexual Harassment at Work 

Talking in the workplace about sexual harassment can be very awkward.  Despite wanting to participate in the conversation, men can feel unsure of how to ask questions or demonstrate support for women without making a misstep or causing offense.

Sexual Harassment Training Should Be Separate for Managers and Rank and File 

Managers and the rank and file need to be told different things during sexual harassment training, so keep their training separate. Employees need to know the basics on respectful and professional behavior and where to turn if they are the victims of sexual harassment, legal experts say. Managerial training should focus on how to end disrespectful conduct, how to avoid liability, how to handle complaints, the investigation process and anti-retaliation rules. 
(SHRM Online)  

New EEOC Training Helps Employers Create Respectful Workplaces 

Creating a respectful workplace environment is the focus of two
new harassment prevention programs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched in October. "Leading for Respect" is aimed at supervisors and "Respect in the Workplace" is for employees. Both deal with civility and acceptable workplace conduct that contribute to an inclusive workplace. Training for supervisors is four hours and training for employees is three hours. 
(SHRM Online)  

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