- Most U.S. workers at companies that have recently implemented diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies say those policies have had a positive impact, according to a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About 40% of respondents said their employers had implemented new D&I policies and training in the past two years alone.
- However, about 4 in 10 respondents felt that white and male employees have more advantages in the workplace compared to other groups, but a similar amount said things will improve for black employees in America.
- More than half said they expect the recent emphasis on sexual misconduct to bring about positive changes for working women. Additionally, respondents whose employers had adopted new harassment policies in the past two years were more likely than others to say they've changed how they interact with co-workers. Women were more likely to have a positive view of the #MeToo movement than men, and entry- and mid-level employees were less likely than senior and executive employees to say they had discussed sexual misconduct in the workplace with colleagues.
It's been almost two years since the #MeToo movement first came into the national spotlight, and reports of its impact on workplaces vary. For example, the movement drove sexual harassment complaints up by 18%, according to a 2019 report by NAVEX Global. That report also found the movement prompted more workers to come forward with claims of having been targeted or having witnessed sexual misconduct. But other research, including a December 2018 report by women's career site Fairygodboss, showed female employees said little had changed in their workplaces.
Although most employees in an HR Acuity survey released last week said they knew how and where to report sexual misconduct allegations, 39% had little confidence such issues would be addressed. The relatively large number of employees in the survey who said they were familiar with the reporting process suggests that employers are effectively communicating these procedures, but the fear of retaliation is significant and shouldn't be overlooked. Experts say sexual harassment policies must include anti-retaliation measures to prevent workers from feeling intimidated, and HR must follow up by investigating claims and enforcing policies.
In an effort to address the problem, some state governments (as well as some employers) have decided to rethink nondisclosure agreements designed to protect alleged wrongdoers. An August report from the National Women's Law Center report showed 13 states have restricted or outright prohibited employers from forcing workers to sign nondisclosure agreements as a term of employment or a settlement. Five states take their laws even further by extending protection against sexual harassment to interns, graduate students and independent contractors.