Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very serious issue, and one that comes with some disturbing statistics showing it doesn’t get the attention it deserves:
- Only 54% of women report unwanted sexual advances
- 30% of those said they received unwanted advances at work
- 23% said the harasser had influence over their work
- 56% of men believe workplace harassment goes unpunished
- 95% of men, according to women, go unpunished for harassment
So why don’t more women report harassment? There are several fascinating reasons, and some of them might come as a complete surprise to you.
A Fear of Retaliation Looms
Wrongful termination attorneys in Los Angeles and around the globe can tell you that, behind it all, there is a fear of loss that often paralyzes and intimidates women into staying silent about acts of harassment. While the loss of their job is a main component there, it’s not the only one that’s present. Women also fear losing respect because:
- Reporting harassment might have them labeled as an attention-seeker
- Reporting harassment might cause them humiliation
- Reporting harassment might make them feel like a victim
- Reporting harassment might cause them to be ostracized at work
But why are these fears present? For starters, there’s a history of these things happening to other women who have reported harassment that informs the actions of those currently facing the issue. It goes deeper, though, to a divide within the workplace.
It’s Fueled by a Lack of Trust
There is an “us versus them” epidemic that pervades the workplace and further enables sexual harassment. In many cases, company culture, which is influenced at the top by men who exhibit or tolerate abusive behavior, trickles down throughout an organization.
In these cases, women who report harassment (and sometimes women in general) are singled out and made to feel cut off from any resources that might help.
When this happens, women can’t report harassment because they feel that there is no one to report said harassment to. If the men at the top are OK with harassment, after all, what good does saying something to human resources (who also report to higher ups) do?
It Permeates the Workplace
That lack of trust and fear of reprisal doesn’t just stop women from reporting clearly unacceptable behaviors. It spreads to everyone within the workplace who would otherwise be sympathetic to those being harassed, and causes them to exhibit inaction as they too do not want to be ostracized or retaliated against for speaking out.
Combating harassment will take a complete shift of company cultures, in many cases, along with incentives to encourage the reporting of inappropriate behavior while also dissuading the behavior itself.