Managing the Drama ...

News, observations and practical advice from today's workplace

sexual harassment

This is Not New

November 14, 2017

by Geoffrey Scheer

It's difficult to remember a time when sexual harassment dominated the news cycle as it does right now. From the first allegations leveled against film producer Harvey Weinstein a few weeks ago to the current firestorm surrounding GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, sexual harassment in the workplace (and beyond) is the talk around water coolers, in boardrooms and in online forums across the country. Women are feeling increasingly empowered to step forward with their stories, as displayed in the #MeToo movement on social media, and a recent article in the New York Times finds men nationwide reevaluating their behaviors at work and asking themselves if they have ever crossed the line with their female co-workers, either knowingly or otherwise.

But to those who have been paying attention, this is not new. An extensive study released last year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that sexual harassment remains a serious and pervasive problem in the United States, despite 30 years of awareness, training and litigation since the Supreme Court ruled that workplace harassment was a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Of the 90,000 charges received yearly by the EEOC, they report that one third contain some component of sexual harassment.

When you consider the vastness of the American workforce, 30,000 reports of sexual harassment may not seem like that great a number. However, the EEOC is quick to point out that the incidents which are reported are only a fraction of the incidents that actually take place. Their study found that when a person is the victim of harassment, the actions they are most likely to take are (1) avoid the harasser, (2) attempt to downplay the severity of the harassment in their own mind or (3) make a conscious effort to forget that the incident ever happened.

The action that a victim of harassment was least likely to take was to report it.

This makes it impossible to know the actual number of incidents that occur each year, much less calculate the costs exacted on either a human or a financial level. Last year, the EEOC collected $164.5 million in damages on behalf of harassment victims, but that's just damages paid. It doesn't begin to take into account associated legal fees, nor does it account for lost productivity, turnover or damage to an organization's reputation that may result in a loss of clients and revenue.

It can seem tasteless to talk of "silver linings" in situations such as these, particularly when the victims of harassment often spend their entire lives struggling with the emotional repercussions of the abuse they endured. But we can, at the very least, take advantage of the fact that this subject is now top of mind for so many. A discussion has begun, and some might argue that a movement has begun with it. It doesn't heal the victims and it doesn't solve the problem overnight. But it's a start.

sexual harassment

Upcoming Presentations

January 3, 2018

by Geoffrey Scheer

2018 is off to a great start. 

This year, Access Communications will be presenting at three major HR conferences, starting with SHRM-Atlanta's SOAHR 2018 Conference in March, followed by Space Coast Annual Conference in Melbourne, FL, in April (where we will give the keynote presentation). Then in June, we will be presenting at the biggest HR conference of the year, SHRM National's Annual Conference and Exposition being held in Chicago.

All the while we will continue to deliver our "Acting With Respect" training programs in diversity and sexual harassment awareness and prevention to companies all around the country.

Excited for these opportunities to bring our message of respect and tolerance in the workplace to a broader audience!