The spotlight on workplace sexual harassment since fall 2017 has led to high-profile resignations, terminations and lawsuits. And while the revelations and consequences have prompted ongoing, national conversations about appropriate behavior, only 32 percent of working Americans said that their employer has taken new steps to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association.
According to employees, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 percent).
The study — Workplace Sexual Harassment: Are Employers Actually Responding? — from APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, was conducted online by Harris Poll from Feb. 15-March 1, 2018, among 1,512 U.S. adults who are employed full-time, part-time or self-employed. The data were collected as part of APA’s 2018 Work and Well-Being Survey.
While the lack of meaningful change is not entirely surprising, it is disappointing, said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.
“The #MeToo movement has given business leaders an opportunity to finally take real action addressing a complex problem that has been pervasive for generations,” Ballard said. “Our survey—as well as anecdotal reports—shows that too few employers are making comprehensive efforts that can have significant impact. Avoiding the issue is bad for employee well-being and business, but so, too, is a narrow, compliance-based approach. 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.”
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